Linguistic and communication exclusion in COVID-19 awareness campaigns in Malawi | Intellect Skip to content
1981
Volume 14, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 2040-199X
  • E-ISSN: 1751-7974

Abstract

The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has unravelled the significance of having robust communication structures about health and disease to dynamic societies. The need to construct a mutual understanding of health issues has become imperative, and achieving a universal understanding of the disease burden requires robust information-sharing processes which can easily surmount the barriers to communication. What is challenging, however, is to communicate in a way and in a language that the majority of the population understands. In Malawi, where the majority of the population (84 per cent) live in rural areas, and without access to information technologies, it becomes more challenging when devising messages that should reach such hard-to-reach populations. This therefore begs the question: how effective is the COVID-19 communication to the Malawi public domain? This article attempts to answer this question by discussing the language choice vis-à-vis the lingua-cultural needs of the masses in COVID-19 awareness, and the strategies and modes of communication in COVID-19 communication. In view of this, the article argues that the government communication strategies concerning COVID-19 were not entirely effective. The article notes that the use of English in most of the COVID-19 messages has excluded the majority and has perpetuated the attitude of perceiving COVID-19 as a disease for the rich people. The modes being used in communicating COVID-19 do not effectively reach the masses since the media penetration is minimal resulting in most Malawians getting second-hand information and developing myths and conspiracy theories. The article concludes that it is imperative for Malawi to devise a contextually appropriate framework for communicating complex health messages.

Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/journals/10.1386/jams_00088_1
2022-09-01
2024-05-29
Loading full text...

Full text loading...

References

  1. Burke, F.. ( 2020;), ‘ The dangers of misinformation and neglecting linguistic minorities during pandemic. ’, Horizons and Science in Society, 16 April, https://ec.europa.eu/research-and-innovation/en/horizon-magazine/dangers-misinformation-and-neglecting-linguistic-minorities-during-pandemic. Accessed 16 April 2020.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Centre for Language Studies ( 2010), Language Mapping Survey for Malawi: A Merged Report, Zomba:: CLS;.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Cowley, S.. ( 2019), ‘Eco-civilisation: Voices in the soundscape’, 4th International Conference on Ecolinguistics, Odense, University of Southern Denmark, 27–29 August.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. FHI ( 2002), Behavior Change Communication for HIV: A Strategic Framework, Arlington:: FHI;.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Figueroa, M. E.,, Kincaid, D. L.,, Rani, M., and Lewis, G.. ( 2002;), ‘ Communication for social change: An integrated approach for measuring the process and its outcomes. ’, Communication for Social Change Working Papers Series, 1, New York:: The Rockefeller Foundation;.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Hamilton, H. E., and Chou, W. S.. (eds) ( 2014), The Routledge Handbook of Language and Health Communication, Abingdon:: Routledge;.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Holmes, B. J.. ( 2008;), ‘ Communicating about emerging infectious disease: The importance of research. ’, Health, Risk and Society, 10:4, pp. 34960.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Ibbott, K.. ( 2015;), ‘ Health literacy: The vital role of plain language in health communication. ’, Healthcare Business Today, 43, www.healthcarebusinesstoday.com. Accessed 4 April 2020.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Jana, M.,, Nieuwoudt, S.,, Kumwenda, W.,, Chitsime, A.,, Weiner, R., and Christofides, N.. ( 2018;), ‘ Measuring social and behavior change communication capacity in Malawi. ’, Strengthening Health System, 2:4, pp. 6973.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Kamwangamalu, N. M.. ( 1999;), ‘ Ubuntu in South Africa: A sociolinguistic perspective to a pan-African concept. ’, Critical Arts, 13, pp. 2441.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Kayange, G. M.. ( 2019;), ‘ Rethinking African analytic philosophy: A perspectival approach. ’, Journal of World Philosophies, 4, pp. 4054, https://scholarworks.iu.edu/iupjournals/index.php/jwp/article/view/3114. Accessed 20 February 2020.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Kayange, G. M.. ( 2020;), ‘ Restoration of Ubuntu as an autocentric virtue-phronesis theory. ’, South African Journal of Philosophy, 39:1, pp. 112, https://doi.org/10.1080/02580136.2019.1665817. Accessed 20 February 2020.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Kickbusch, I., and Maag, D.. ( 2008;), ‘ Health literacy. ’, in K. Heggenhousen, and S. Quah. (eds), International Encyclopedia of Public Health, Boston, MA:: Elsevier;, pp. 20411.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Koenker, H.,, Keating, J.,, Alilio, M.,, Acosta, A.,, Lynch, M., and Nafo-Traore, F.. ( 2014;), ‘ Strategic roles for behavior change communication in a changing malaria landscape. ’, Malaria Journal, 13:1, pp. 14.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Kreuter, M. W., and McClure, S. M.. ( 2004;), ‘ The role of culture in health communication. ’, Annual Review of Public Health, 25, pp. 43955.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Maturana, H. R.. ( 1988;), ‘ Reality: The search for objectivity or the quest for a compelling argument. ’, The Irish Journal of Psychology, 9:1, pp. 2582.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Ministry of Health ( 2020), COVID-19 Prevention Guidelines, Lilongwe:: MoH;.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Nashipeta, A. U.. ( 2019;), ‘ A stylistic analysis of healthcare communication discourses on billboards and posters in Windhoek. ’, master’s thesis, Windhoek:: University of Namibia.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. NSO ( 2018), 2018 Malawi Housing and Population Census, Zomba:: National Statistical Office;.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Piotrow, P. T.,, Kincaid, D. L.,, Rimon, J. G., and Rinehart, W. E.. ( 1997), Health Communication: Lessons from Family Planning and Reproductive Health, Westport, CN:: Praeger;.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Ratzan, S.,, Payne, J., and Schulte, S.. ( 2004;), ‘ Health communication. ’, in N. Anderson. (ed.), Encyclopedia of Health and Behavior, Thousand Oaks, CA:: Sage;, pp. 398402.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Sambala, E. Z.,, Manderson, L., and Cooper, S.. ( 2019;), ‘ Ubuntu as a framework for ethical decision making in Africa: Responding to epidemics. ’, Ethics and Behaviour, 30:1, pp. 113.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Schiavo, R.. ( 2013), Health Communication: From Theory to Practice, , 2nd ed.., San Francisco, CA:: Jossey-Bass;.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Stoley, D., and Figueroa, M. E.. ( 2012;), ‘ Toward a global theory of health behavior and social change. ’, in R. Obregon, and S. Waisbord. (eds), The Handbook of Global Health Communication, Chichester:: John Wiley & Sons Inc;., pp. 7094.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Tesseur, W., and Crack, A.. ( 2020;), ‘“ These are all outside words”: Translating development discourse in NGO’s projects in Kyrgyzstan and Malawi. ’, Journal for Translation Studies in Africa, 1, pp. 2542.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Tsang, E. P., and Hui, D. L. H.. ( 2016;), ‘ Everyday-ing health literacy and the imperative of health communication: A critical agenda. ’, in M. E. Robertson. (ed.), Communicating, Networking, Interacting, SpringBriefs in Global Understanding, Cham:: Springer;, pp. 6370, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-45471-9_7. Accessed 4 February 2020.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Van de Berg, V. L.. ( 2016;), ‘ Still lost in translation: Language barriers in South African health care remain. ’, South African Family Practice, 56:6, pp. 22931.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. WHO ( 2015;), ‘ Bridging the language divide in health. ’, Bulletin of the WHO, 93:6, pp. 361436.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Wilce, J. M.. ( 2009;),  ‘ Medical discourse. ’, Annual Review of Anthropology, 38, pp. 199215.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Zarcadoolas, C.. ( 2010;), ‘ The simplicity complex: Exploring simplified health messages in a complex world. ’, Health Promotion International, 26:3, pp. 33850.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Jiyajiya, Peter Mayeso, and Mtenje-Mkochi, Atikonda. ( 2022;), ‘ Linguistic and communication exclusion in COVID-19 awareness campaigns in Malawi. ’, Journal of African Media Studies, 14:3, pp. 45570, https://doi.org/10.1386/jams_00088_1
    [Google Scholar]
http://instance.metastore.ingenta.com/content/journals/10.1386/jams_00088_1
Loading
/content/journals/10.1386/jams_00088_1
Loading

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): culture; health; language use; multilingualism; pandemics; social change
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a success
Invalid data
An error occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error