NEWS Diggers! and the Ministry of Health have partnered to fight the second wave of COVID-19 which has hit the country.

Speaking during the COVID-19 partnership meeting between the Ministry and media heads, Wednesday, News Diggers! Editor in Chief Joseph Mwenda said the newspaper was ready to disseminate Ministry of Health information relating to public health guidelines on all its platforms for free.

He added that the newspaper has received funding from the Open Society Initiative for Souther Africa, OSISA to partner with government agencies in fighting the pandemic.

Mwenda called on the Ministry of Health to avail information on COVID-19 that needs dissemination so that the media house can disseminate to the masses.

“As an organisation, we feel that this, indeed, is one area where there should be no questions about it. We should all come together and fight this pandemic with concerted efforts. So even from the first wave, our approach has been that we should work with government institutions such as yours, so that we can help in information dissemination. What we bring on the table as News Diggers! is that we are offering our platform for all information that needs to be disseminated, because we can have information that may not be as accurate or verified or might not be tailored to our Zambian situation. So all we are asking from the Ministry is that can we have that information as soon as yesterday, so that we can hit the ground running with passing on that information to the masses, to the people in the communities and the people in the outskirts of the city,” said Mwenda.

“Our partners, Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), have made it possible for us to actually have a bit of funds on the side, so that’s why we want to partner with the Ministry; where there is need for the Ministry to pay, we also have a bit of resources which we are offering to the Ministry to help with this information dissemination. So we are very grateful that you are happy to partner with us on this second wave, which we can already see has some spiraling statistics. So, that is what we would want to submit Honourable Minister and we are ready to get started with this mandate as soon as possible. All we need is the Ministry to guide us: what do you want us to do? And we will do that.”

And Minister of Health Dr Chitalu Chilufya said partnering with media institutions was a step in the right direction in order to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“Mr Mwenda, thank you very much indeed for that generous offer for partnership and indeed, that is the way to go. It is time for solidarity, we need to hold hands and face this common enemy and with the power of partnership, we will be able to bring this enemy down. There is a lot of misinformation in the public domain and unfortunately, sometimes coming from leading political figureheads. I was just rebutting two leaders on the vaccine. The vaccine is a silver bullet to this CIOVID -19 challenge. Today, the world has close to 90 million people having suffered from COVID-19 and more than a million deaths. These vaccines are actually manufactured and tested in a structured manner and there are globally established procedures on how to admit a vaccine in any nation,” said Dr Chilufya.

“Again, I reiterate the call for partnership. Health for everyone in Zambia is what is known as the universal health coverage agenda that we are pursuing and a healthy citizenry will be productive and will push for sustainable development. So, we are all stakeholders and in a multi sectoral manner, let us play our role to ensure a healthier nation. This we can achieve if we all held hands in solidarity, we can definitely put COVID-19 behind us and focus on other public health challenges.”