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Report health issues objectively,Journalists urged

Journalists across Sub-Saharan Africa have been urged to improve on scientific reporting and ensure provision of simple, factual, intelligible, and timely information.

Speaking during a virtual conference on the 5th African Conference of Science Journalists under the theme ‘Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (MESHA) conference’, the Head, Division of Patient and Health Workers Safety, Ministry of Health Dr. Evelyn Wesangula called on journalists to help create awareness on health matters.

She emphasized the role of media in spreading information related to health, the environment, science, and agriculture.

“Media is an important partner for scientific messages, journalists have the mandate to inform, educate and put information into context and measure its impacts,” she said.

Dr Wesangula encouraged science journalists to consider accuracy in order to achieve a greater understanding of public responsibilities.

“Media is naturally attracted to scares, scandals, and conflicts. You should therefore increase accuracy and reduce misrepresentation and distortion. This is very important in science reporting,” she added.

She further explained how the media could maneuver through emerging scientific findings saying, “Scientific reporters have a unique responsibility to the reader and unlike in sports, they should understand the science and then translate it accurately.”

Dr. Wesangula who highlighted Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) as a public health threat, urged the media to increase the coverage of AMR to help reach the target audience by mobilizing people to participate in the National Action Plan.

“Very few countries have achieved countrywide coverage in terms of awareness but you can imagine what one radio station does in terms of coverage. It can actually broadcast to the whole country thereby helping the countries achieve their goals within the Action Plans,” she said.

She said the media is a very powerful tool in disseminating information and if well utilized, it could play a key role in achieving sustainable development goals in the country.

The conference in conjunction with InfoNile/Water Journalists Association based in Uganda brought together over 200 international and local science journalists, communication professionals, scientists, and policymakers.

By Mary Odago

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