(Ministry of Health and Wellness)

While the health sector has a crucial leadership role in shaping and guiding the COVID-19 response, corporate entities, civil society, and communities are also being seen as “well positioned to contribute to the response”. 

This was emphasised last Friday by Senior Medical Officer of Health (Non-Communicable Diseases), Dr. Arthur Phillips, as he, along with other health officials, joined entertainers, promoters and influencers to launch a public relations (PR) campaign that showcases ways in which Crop Over influencers and artists are taking responsibility to help manage COVID-19.

Dr. Phillips noted that with the continued relaxation of some of the COVID-19 protocols, there has been a call for greater individual and collective responsibility in managing COVID-19. 

As he gave reasons for the involvement of these influencers, he stated: “These entities possess tangible and intangible resources, such as influence, “power”, credibility and reach, which can be leveraged to persuade the population to adopt public health guidance for the safety of the entire society.

“Building partnerships with such entities will maximise individual strengths; ensure consistency in information and messaging from all partners, and help ensure that our population remains safe, while returning to some sense of normalcy in everyday life.”

The health official noted that this was to ensure the Crop Over period is conducted in as safe an environment as possible. 

The Ministry of Health and Wellness, with the kind support from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Task Force for Global Health, sought to engage Crop Over practitioners.

Also pointing out that this was to enhance their participation in the design and delivery of public health messaging and other responses to COVID-19, he noted that over the past three weeks, event promoters, artistes, social media influencers and educators worked closely with the Ministry’s Senior Health Promotion Officer, Donna Barker, and CDC Consultant with the Ministry, Arlene Husbands, to develop the COVID-19 Influencers PR Campaign.  

Entitled “Taking Responsibility for Managing COVID-19”, it has as its tagline: It’s a We Ting…I Protect You, You Protect Me, and We Protect We Families.  Spread this Message, Not the Virus. 

The messaging for radio and social media will be aired soon and the Ministry is appealing to the public to stay tuned, as it encourages everyone to let personal responsibility be their guide to an enjoyable Crop Over.

(Ministry of Health and Wellness)

Dr. Phillips, while emphasising that such caution is desirable given that COVID-19 remains very present among us, added that the Health Ministry was extremely pleased with the messaging, and grateful for the commitment and dedication to the cause.

“It is hoped that continued partnerships like these would assist with creating messages that connect directly with selected target audiences to ensure that the public has updated and reliable information to protect themselves and others and establishing credibility, and harnessing a digital presence to promote COVID-19 messages,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, in her remarks, Ms. Husbands stressed that the partnership engagement with the Ministry and others was initially started in November 2021, during the Omicron wave, when the Operations Mission Critical – Saving Lives – was launched at Wellington Street, The City. 

She noted that the community benefited from the necessary education as well as personal protection equipment to keep them safe, and said the activity continued with the BA2 variant.

“Being aware of the planned mass gathering events … we moved expeditiously to engage partners in the entertainment, education and communication sectors,” she said, noting that out of a meeting held last month with key stakeholders, a COVID-19 key influencers group chat was formed. Pointing out that this led to the development of the messaging that is now being launched, she acknowledged it also represented “another layer of the risk communication and community engagement strategies with a wider stakeholder group”.

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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