MISA Malawi today joins the rest of the world in commemorating the International Day for Universal Access to Information.
UNESCO declared 28th September as International Day for Universal Access to Information and it was proclaimed as such by the United Nations General Assembly in October 2019.
This year, the International Day for Universal Access to Information focuses on the right to information in times of crisis.
It also highlights the advantages of having constitutional, statutory and/or policy guarantees for public access to information to save lives, build trust and help the formulation of sustainable policies through and beyond the Covid-19 crisis.
As MISA Malawi joins partners and the rest of the world in celebrating this day, we call for easy access to information on the Covid-19 pandemic by all Malawians.
We recognize the role of the government, private sector, civil society and the media in ensuring that communities receive relevant information about health and social crises such as Covid-19.
We also acknowledge and appreciate the Presidential Taskforce on Covid-19 and the Public Health Institute under the Ministry of Health for continuing to provide updates on the Covid-19 situation in Malawi.
MISA Malawi would also like to commend the media for extensively covering the Covid-19 pandemic which has helped in ensuring that the nation is informed on the matter. We urge journalists to continue to build on the strides made, by among others, also focusing on holding officials to account on the use of resources allocated to the fight against Covid-19.
We are however worried that lack of access to correct, relevant and easy to follow information has had an impact on the way some Malawians, more especially those in rural and peri-urban areas, have been handling themselves during the pandemic.
Some people, such as children, the elderly and those with visual and hearing challenges have also been hugely marginalized in Covid-19 messaging thereby putting their lives in danger.
Unfortunately, this information gap created a fertile ground for fake news on issues around the pandemic.
MISA Malawi believes that universal access to information must be at the centre of the pandemic response if the country is to sustainably and resiliently fight the pandemic.
Access to relevant information has the power to save lives, build trust and bring hope among Malawians who have been heavily affected by the socio-economic impact of Covid-19.
MISA Malawi Chairperson Teresa Ndanga
MISA Malawi National Director Aubrey Chikungwa