WHO Organizes 2-Day Capacity Strengthening Workshop on Health Reporting During Emergencies

By Ahmed Abu, The Nigerian Voice, Maiduguri
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World Health Organization (WHO) has organized a two day workshop training for print and electronic working journalists drawn from the north east of Nigeria on capacity strengthening on health reporting during emergencies.

The workshop which was held at banquet hall of Yukuben Hotel and Tourism Yola, Adamawa state on Wednesday, 10th October 2018 and Thursday, 11th October, 2018 was targeted at improving, exposing and updating the journalists with the operational and technical skills of public health reporting as well as the rudiments of public health reporting of emergencies in the north east of Nigeria.

The Adamawa State Commissioner of Health, Dr. Fatima Atiku Abubakar who declared the workshop open, commended the WHO for their support to the state on public health emergencies and issues while recognizing the efforts of WHO in the managing public health emergencies in the state.

Represented by the Ministry's Information Officer, Alhaji Abubakar Mohammed, she also appreciated the efforts of WHO in partnering with the state government in controlling and addressing outbreaks of cholera and other public health priority diseases and improving quality healthcare delivery services in the state.

Resource persons at the workshop include Professor Danjuma Gambo of mass communication department of University of Maiduguri who dwelt on the health reporting from a development communication perspective and also discussed contemporary issues on reporting during public health emergencies.

He further highlighted on the need for journalists to be focused, committed, current , determined , objective, fair, accurate and neutral in reporting facts and the truth irrespective of the media journalists belong whether public or private media by being professionals and establishing trust between the themselves and the public as well as the public health organization or group he or she was reporting on.

Professor Gambo further stressed the need for paradigm shift by journalists reporting emergencies from negative to positive narrative and focussing on human angle or development communication reportage in the interest of the public and humanity at large which he emphasized is a Global issue.

Other resource person include Dr. Onjefu Okidu, a Development Communication and senior lecturer from Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo, who discussed gate keeping and public health information during emergencies and emphasized the need for change .

Mrs.. Moji Makanjuola , the Founder of International Society of Media on Public Health, who discussed media as a partner in public health interventions: An insider's perspectives, emphasized on the role of the media and benefits from public health issues in Nigeria while tasking the Nigerian journalists on public health reporting, zeal, passion and versatility.

Dr. Chima Onuekwe, the WHO Risk Communication Officer, WHO Health Emergencies, North East of Nigeria who coordinated the workshop charged journalists, particularly, those covering public health emergencies to always bear in mind the need to have knowledge on public health emergencies and issues as well know the technicalities involved in public health reporting, the required skills needed to report, improve and promote issues on providing and improving people's health globally.

Chima also discussed journalism from a 'Public Health Perspective: The Journalists Verses the Public Health Worker 'as well as 'Agenda Setting Lessons Learnt from Media Coverage of Ebola Outbreak in Nigeria 'and expected outcomes of the workshop.

He however cautioned journalists to always report the right thing on public health emergencies and issues at the right time from the right people or sources in the interest of the general public., pointing out that, the mass media play a great role in information dissemination globally and whatever the mass media say or report make impact in the Society.

Other WHO Experts that made presentations at the workshop include Dr. Friday Iyobosa, WHO Adamawa state Coordinator and Dr. Uzima Uguchukwu Team Lead, Surveillance Unit, WHO North East Nigeria on basic facts on diseases of public health importance in Emergencies in Adamawa state and the north east of Nigeria respectively.