Workshop urges journalists to play role in polio eradication

Journalists told to report accurately on health issues

A training workshop was organised for journalists in the Galiyat region of Abbottabad district on Tuesday to hone their skills for an informed reporting on health issues and to address misconceptions about essential immunisation.

Additional Secretary Health and Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) Coordinator Abdul Basit, EOC Technical Focal Person Dr Imtiaz Ali Shah, National Professional Officer (WHO) Dr Sarfaraz Afridi, Communication Development Officer Ejazur Rehman, EOC Media Officer Shadab Younas, senior journalist Mehmood Jan Babar and journalists from Peshawar were present on the occasion.

In his opening remarks, EOC Coordinator Abdul Basit welcomed all participants, saying that it is important that correct and authentic information is disseminated effectively through the media. He hoped that the activity would help equip the participants with the skills required for accurate reporting on health and polio-related incidents.

He said it is important to establish an effective liaison between the community and the media and provide fact-based information to journalists. He urged participants to own this national cause and contribute stories, columns and features that build confidence and trust of public in vaccination.

Dr Imtiaz Ali Shah briefed journalists on the global polio eradication initiative (GPEI), polio structures, national and regional polio updates and operational and communication challenges.

He said that due to government’s ownership and an effective liaison with relevant departments, most of the operational and communication challenges in the programme have been addressed while serious efforts are being made to bridge the remaining gaps.

National Professional Officer World Health Organization Dr Sarfaraz Afridi informed the participants about poliomyelitis, types and virus strains, history of disease, types of polio vaccines, vaccine safety and efficacy, repeated doses and requisites for certification of the last endemic region.

He shed light on National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) 2020 operational and communication priorities, and national, provincial and district structures supporting and executing the polio eradication programme.

He also discussed key challenges for the Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) with specific focus on high-risk districts of the province, saying that virus is circulating in the region and is hitting unvaccinated children.

Speaking on the occasion, senior journalist Mehmood Jan Babar discussed various tools and tips for authentic reporting, current media trends and impact of misreporting with specific reference to health reporting. He emphasised on the need for being accurate and to clearly mention source of the information apart from adding quotes of the relevant authorities to balance the news and make it more authentic.

Jan said that pressure should be managed while reporting on health/polio issues and solutions should be worked out to remain right and accurate while reporting health news.