Pretoria – Drama students at the University of Pretoria are using the power of the arts to teach people how to use sanitisers in their bid to debunk the myths surrounding the Covid-19 vaccine.
From myths of the Covid-19 vaccines having a microchip to track people or being part of the 5G technology to control communities, to it (the vaccine) being able to change people’s DNA, the students had their role cut out for them.
Titled Auntie Covidia and the Curious Calamities, the production was produced through a partnership between the School of Arts, the University’s Unicef One Health for Change programme, InterAcademy Partnership and the Department of Science and Innovation, the National Research Foundation and the Centre of Excellence in Food Security.
According to the university, the drama was aimed at adult women and focused on the use of appropriate hand sanitisers during the Covid-19 pandemic.
It was in fact inspired by an article written by Professor Lise Korsten and Dr Willeke de Bruin on how South Africans needed to be protected against fake sanitisers following a statement released by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).
In February, SABS amended SANS 490, the national standard that defines alcohol-based hand rubs and sanitisers, to specify the minimum alcohol content of liquids, gels, foams and aerosols.
This was in line with global guidelines as specified by the World Health Organization and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority to fight the coronavirus pandemic, as well as raising concerns about substandard sanitisers produced by unscrupulous manufacturers who falsely claimed their products had been certified.
Third-year student Teana Chiba said that with Covid-19 having presented numerous challenges to everyone, one of the most prevalent issues they came across that was often overlooked was the issue of using sanitisers.
For one, Chiba said they found that many people did not even know the correct information about sanitisers, their ingredients, expiry date, how to use them and alcohol percentage.
“What you then find is that these low-quality products end up triggering skin allergies and can damage the skin, often presenting as a form of eczema.
“So it was important to use entertainment not only to entertain people, but also educate them because drama is a powerful medium.”
Chiba said that with the play being interactive, they were able to pick up a number of myths surrounding the vaccine, most of which were unfounded.
“There is a lot of fear and panic regarding the vaccine as this is something new to have been developed, and because it goes into bodies everyone is pulled in all directions.
“In one of our sessions, we found a diagram used to insinuate the chip implant was nothing more than a graph for a base-guitar.
“So for us as drama students it is simply about using research and the power of the arts to educate our people so that we can all come out on the other side of this pandemic.”