The Centre for Science and Health Communication (CSHC) on Wednesday May 17, 2023 organized 1-day capacity building training for twenty-five (25) selected science and health reporters in Ghana.
The event was held at the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens Conference Hall at the University of Ghana campus at Legon in Accra.
It was moderated by Daniel Kwame Ampofo Adjei, a graduate researcher at the Department of Communication Studies, University of Ghana
Among the participants was the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Human Rights Reporters Ghana HRRG), Joseph Kobla Wemakor who equally had his knowledge and communication skills honed on infectious diseases reporting including health-related issues.
This initiative, which is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations, seeks to equip journalists with the necessary skills and knowledge to report on infectious diseases and epidemics with accuracy and sensitivity.
The beneficiaries were selected from a pool of health reporters across the country after a rigorous selection process when the Centre earlier opened calls for entries requesting health reporters in the country to apply through the submission of 2 of their recently published articles on health/infectious diseases for consideration.
According to Dr Bernard Appiah, Director of Centre for Science and Health Communication, the training aimed to equip participants with the necessary knowledge and skills to effectively communicate and disseminate information on infectious diseases and health-related issues to the public.
Infectious diseases continue to be a significant public health challenge globally, with the emergence of new and re-emerging diseases such as COVID-19, Ebola, and Zika posing significant threats to human health.
According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), infectious diseases are responsible for millions of deaths every year globally. Furthermore, infectious diseases such as Ebola, Zika, and COVID-19 have attracted widespread attention in recent years due to their global impact. It is therefore necessary that journalists reporting on infectious diseases possess the necessary skills and knowledge.
The capacity building program, which was conducted for 25 journalists drawn from various media outlets in Ghana, focused on issues such as the basics of infectious disease reporting, understanding the epidemiology of infectious diseases, public health responses to infectious diseases, and ethical reporting.
By the end of the program, participants had acquired valuable knowledge on how to report accurately and ethically on infectious diseases.
It is worthy to note that the training program also emphasized the importance of public health communication during infectious disease outbreaks. The communication of accurate public health information is essential in preventing the spread of infectious diseases and reducing the fear and panic that often accompany such outbreaks.
Speaking at the end of the program, the Executive Director of Human Rights Reporters Ghana, Joseph Kobla Wemakor expressed gratitude to the CSHC for commitment to building the capacity of journalists in Ghana, adding that it would go a long way in enhancing his understanding of infectious diseases and improving his ability to disseminate information on health-related issues to the public.
“I am grateful to the Centre for Science and Health Communication for organizing this training. It has been an eye-opener for me, and I have learned a lot about infectious diseases and how to communicate effectively on health-related issues.
I am confident that the knowledge and skills gained from this training will enhance my capacity including my colleagues to effectively communicate and disseminate information on infectious diseases and other health-related issues to the public”.
Dr. Abena Animwaa Yeboah-Banin, Senior Lecturer and Head of Department of Communication Studies at the University of Ghana in her presentation highlighted the importance of accurate reporting on infectious diseases and called on journalists to use the knowledge gained to report on infectious diseases with accuracy, sensitivity, and responsibility.
The Centre for Science and Health Communication has a track record of collaborating with various stakeholders to promote the communication of accurate and reliable health information to the public. This initiative is a testament to its commitment to this cause.
In conclusion, the training program organized by the Centre for Science and Health Communication in collaboration with support of its partners is a significant step towards building the capacity of journalists in Ghana on infectious disease reporting.
The skills and knowledge acquired by journalists during the program will go a long way in promoting accurate and ethical reporting on infectious diseases.
It is hoped that similar initiatives will be implemented in other countries to ensure that journalists possess the necessary skills and knowledge to report on public health issues accurately.