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Digital communications key in interventions against Covid-19

By Njenga Gitahi | May 21st 2020 at 08:05:38 GMT +0300

The right digital tools for collaboration, communication and connectivity during a crisis such as Covid-19 will help promote the mitigation agenda either by state or any other stakeholder. 

 Ironically, Covid-19 has become a critical launchpad and catalyst for digital technology in knowledge management and communication in Kenya. 

Digital communication is key to maximising interactions with the Kenyan Government to provide authenticated, accurate, and up-to-date information to people on Covid-19 and other public issues

However, the World Health Organization has cautioned on infodemic or overabundance of information and the spread of fake news to create panic in society. 

The Kenya government has adopted both digital (TV, Radio, national portals, mobile apps or through social media platforms which send push notifications to mobile phones, IoT along with AI), and non-digital platforms(dissemination of leaflets, partnering with influencers, posters) to offer an open system to disseminate information on Covid-19. 

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By adopting digital platforms the government makes it easier for the citizens to appreciate the severity of the pandemic and ensure preventive measures. 

The design and effectiveness of the platforms will make it easier to influence the targeted population, particularly in rural areas. 

Digital platforms are further enhanced by new technologies such as Google Loon which uses balloons suspended in the atmosphere to extend connectivity to the many people around the world who have no internet access. 

However, lack of harmonised data management systems, inadequate ICT skills, limited penetration of telecommunication infrastructure and electricity in rural areas or inadequate supply of affordable and uninterrupted power supply leaves lots citizens without access to this information. 

Additionally, the government E-platform systems operate in a silo system that hinders data-sharing and communication. This has reduced the rate of integration in various shared services, increased bureaucracy and delayed delivery of real-time and accurate information in its bid to curtail further infections as the Covid-19 pandemic ravages the world. 

Digital platforms will facilitate communications from and dissemination of awareness messages and citizen access to information on Covid-19. 

Ultimately, the government should ensure that the digital platforms used in public communication are comprehensive as well as equitable; protecting people's rights, and inclusive to promote public health and safety amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Dr Njenga lectures at JKUAT besides being a researcher with ACAL's Covid-19 thinktank


Covid-19 Interventions Digital Communications
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