Legendary veteran journalist Ashok Ramsarup has been nominated for an international Unite Health Social Media on using information technology when the Covid-19 pandemic took the world by storm. Social media had become a beacon of hope while the world grappled with the disease.
Ramsarup who just turned 70 retired from the SABC as a Senior Producer of the Current Affairs Programme – Newsbreak – on Lotus FM in 2016. He continued to work gratis for Citizen News Service (India) and AllMediaLink (Germany)
During the coronavirus pandemic, people around the world turned to social media for information and guidance. This media platform had both positive and negative aspects to the behavioral pattern of COVID. These range from the spread of misinformation to the indispensable role social media has played in the dissemination of accurate information and mental health education.
Mr Ramsarup said: “I believe that social media is playing an integral part in our daily lives. It has become an important digital platform for disseminating of news that is both challenging and beneficial as many lives were lost through the epidemic.
“From day one I realized that social media is a new concept, and it is changing the world rapidly. It has become the Voice of the Voiceless and a window to the outside world.”
Today many youths throughout the world are using social media and thus being impacted by the information imparted on the digital platforms that’s now an integral part of their daily lives in the 21stcentury.
“I personally found social media and other digital platforms are important tools to serve to provide information and keep people abreast and connected with the latest news. But the spread of misinformation on social media and other digital platforms was causing a great threat to public health as the virus itself.
“The worrying factor of inaccurate information serves to undermine the global response in the fight against the pandemic by eroding public trust and marring attempts to control its spread of the virus,” said the veteran journalist.
Ramsarup said: “We must understand that the COVID-19 pandemic has led us into a global crisis in mental health issues. The dissemination of accurate information concerning the virus is essential. The expunction of such important news from the historical record deprives future generations of the truth about the deadly virus.
“The mainstream media have a major advantage over social media and other digital platforms to ease access to information with immediate effect that will provide ample opportunity for education to people around the world.
“This ultimately helps to reduce mental health via social media. I must be quite adamant that I was diagnosed with COVID. I even went as far as taking Ivermectin which was banned by health officials to fight COVID. I was in total isolation. Today I am a walking miracle after undergoing colon and appendix operations seven years ago,” he said.
He indicated that social media had taught the world to be prepared for future health outbreaks. Governments and health authorities must work together to ensure better health care and structure societies for a better, safer world and work smartly to prevent pandemics in the future.
According to the Unite Health Social Media organisers based in Switzerland, there are various award categories reflecting the extraordinarily rapid growth in public learning, awareness, and questioning of COVID-19 issues including, Understanding the Virus, Pandemic Policy and Practice, COVID-19 Care and Support, Staying Safe, Vaccines, Long COVID and Young Leader.
The nominees are from more than 60 countries. It has been established that five thousand votes have been cast. The nominees include government officials, non-governmental workers, scientists, community activists, doctors, nurses, and journalists.