To Launch: ‘AfricaCovidChampions’ And For A Virtual Workshop For Celebrity Influencers, Business Leaders, Media Houses, And Journalists
In order to combat the spread of misinformation and to mitigate the deadly spread of COVID-19, the One by One: Target COVID-19 Campaign, alongside the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, Regional Office for Africa, the African Union, and The Rockefeller Foundation today launched ‘AfricaCOVIDChampions.’
AfricaCovidChampions is a new initiative which includes some of the most prominent African celebrities, media personalities, journalists, and influencers from the sports, entertainment, business, cultural and faith communities. The prominent figures include Heritier Wanabe (Musician), Simon Mwewa Lane (TV Show Host), Joseph Kusaga (Media Owner), Jeff Koinange (Journalist/Talk Show Host) and Gift Ali (Ugandan Football player / Sports Personality). These influencers have committed to serve as powerful public health advocates and will help reach people with the essential information needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We thank the powerful AfricaCovidChampions who are lending their voices to our critical public health efforts. Through AfricaCovidChampions, we plan to reach millions of people with messages delivered by trusted community, faith and cultural leaders. When people hear common sense advice from the celebrities they see every day, and from trusted faith leaders, they will take appropriate action to prevent COVID-19,” said Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC.
The AfricaCovidChampions kicked off with a virtual influencer workshop which was designed to offer all influencers the tools needed to be effective COVID-19 ambassadors. The workshop included hundreds of influencers from across the continent, including artists, media personalities and business leaders.
The workshop – through which more than 400 multi-sector influencers were mobilized to join the fight against COVID – kicked off with remarks from Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa CDC, and H.E. Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, Former President of Tanzania. Additionally, technical insights into best viral protection practices and vaccine rollout were provided via the expertise of Dr. Ahmed E. Ogwell, OUMA, Deputy Director at Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and Dr. Richard Mihigo, Program Area Manager, Immunization and Vaccine Development Programme Coordinator, WHO Regional Office for Africa.
The workshop succeeded in its dual mission to:
1) Galvanize an elite cadre of influential and prominent celebrities to become AfricaCovidChampions to help combat COVID-19 and
2) Equip and empower these champions with the accurate COVID-19 information they’ll need to help save lives.
At the end of the workshop, all champions will receive a technical toolkit to help them reach out to their target audiences.
“This initiative is predicted to have lasting impact, not only for stopping the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa, but by forming an influential communication pipeline to impact ongoing health engagement across the continent. The AfricaCovidChampions’ commitment to stopping the spread of misinformation, particularly as vaccine roll-out begins, marks a significant milestone in the African response to COVID-19,” said Dr. Mihigo of the World Health Organization’s Regional Office in Africa.
Today at the influencer workshop, Dr. Moeti announced the launch of the ‘WHO Viral Facts Africa’ which will disseminate verified health information and facts about protecting individuals and communities from COVID-19, as well as scientifically-proven facts about COVID-19 vaccines.
As Dr. Moeti told the virtual audience, “We’re not just facing a pandemic; We’re facing an infodemic.” She continued to explain: “Viral health misinformation costs lives. False claims spread online and offline spread faster than the coronavirus, itself….Together, we can stop viral rumors by sharing Viral Facts.”
The timing of AfricaCovidChampions campaign is critical as 90 million doses of vaccines are arriving in the coming weeks, according to Dr. Mihigo.
Simultaneously, the Siya Kolisi Foundation and Roche launched a children’s book that will help parents and caregivers explain COVID-19 to children by sharing scientific facts in age-appropriate language. The book is available for free download on both the Kolisi Foundation’s and Roche’s websites and digital channels, and a limited number of free printed copies will be distributed throughout Africa in seven languages. The Kolisi Foundation was founded by South Africa’s 2019 World Cup-winning captain, Siya, and his wife Rachel, and seeks to support people living in under-resourced communities in South Africa. Together, Roche and the Kolisi Foundation aim to contribute to the AfricaCovidChampions campaign efforts to spread reliable information about COVID-19.
The launch of AfricaCovidChampions is made possible by the generous support of The Rockefeller Foundation, who recently committed nearly USD $35 million to COVID-19 response efforts in Africa. “We are pleased to support the launch of AfricaCovidChampions to ensure that communities across Africa are empowered to make informed decisions to protect themselves and their loved ones,” said William Asiko, Managing Director and Head of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Africa Regional Office.
Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Access Challenge.