By Duncan Mlanjira
The Malawi Government has ordered UTM Party and Malawi Congress Party (MCP) to cancel the Coronavirus (COVID-19) sensitization tours which the two parties that are in the fresh presidential election alliance intend to carry out.
Through the Ministry of Information, Civic Education & Information Technology, the government says the two parties should give room to the Ministry of Health officials to take lead because they have been specially trained for it.
“Government would like to remind all Malawians that success in the fight against COVID-19 is, to a reasonable extent, dependent on development and dissemination of correct information, says the statement signed by Minister Mark Botomani.
“In this regard, Government, through Ministerial Committee chaired by the Ministry of Health [Jappie Mhango] has been orienting health workers and journalists in the management of COVID-19 to ensure
effective preventive and treatment strategies are developed and disseminated.
“This week, there is an orientation of traditional leaders, district commissioners and district health officers in the management of COVID-19 organized by the Malawi Government in conjunction with UNICEF.
“It is inappropriate, therefore, for groups such as UTM and MCP to involve themselves in Coronavirus message development and dissemination without any orientation by the Ministry of Health.”
Botomani adds that incorrect information is a setback to the fight against the COVID-19 and that even correct information developed and disseminated wrongly, is a danger as well.
“The UTM, MCP and indeed any other political party, must never use Coronavirus for political gains,” says Botomani. “People’s lives are at risk and, for once, let parties leave politics aside and think Malawi first.
“The Government would like to urge all political parties in the country considering involving themselves in the fight against COVID-19 to contact the Ministry of Health for guidance.”
He said the Government expects UTM, MCP and indeed any other party with similar ideas to adhere to this call by seeking guidance from Ministry of Health, reminding all Malawians that COVID-19 is a serious and devasting pandemic which has affected the whole world.
“The law enforcement agencies will, therefore, deal with anyone who will disregard the orders as outlined by His Excellency the State President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika in his national address on COVID-19 last week.
“The Government expects that every Malawian will act responsibly in managing this pandemic even though the country has not yet registered any case.
When declaring the State of Disaster, President Mutharika told Malawians that at present there is no specific Off-the-Counter treatment or vaccine for Coronavirus available and what hospitals can do is to support patients by relieving the symptoms while their bodies fight the infection naturally.
“As we take every precaution, we must maintain our hope because according to health experts, 97% of patients infected by the Coronavirus get well after medical interventions.”
He added that in the absence of vaccine and an Off-the-Counter treatment, raising awareness of the risk factors for the Coronavirus infection and protective measures individuals can take is the only way to reduce human infection and death.
He shared with Malawians some of the preventive measures as prescribed by global medical experts that include:
• Washing of hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser;
• Stoping handshakes
• Maintaining social distance with people;
• Not touching eyes, nose and mouth;
• Practising cough hygiene by covering mouth and nose with tissue or sleeve or flexed elbow when coughing or sneezing;
• Seeking medical care whenever feeling unwell.