Health Alert trains Journalists on Health Security and Pandemic Preparedness

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By Alfred Koroma

In order to improve media coverage on health emergencies, Health Alert, a well-known civil society organisation has on Friday 17th May initiated a specialised training program for journalists, focused on health security and emergency pandemic preparedness.

 The training, which took place in Freetown, converged journalists from diverse media outlets to improve their skills in reporting on health issues.

The day-long training covered a range of topics useful for effective health reporting.

Journalists who attended the training were trained by medical and public health communications experts, an experienced journalist and a civil society activist.

Giving an overview before the training commenced, Health Alert Executive Director, Victor Lansana Koroma said they organised the training because they know the importance of the media in communicating health information.

“Health security is key, and the media is very crucial in disseminating health information,” he said.

He commended the establishment of the National Public Health Agency (NPHA) and other progress made in Sierra Leone’s health sector, but he decried that domestic financing for the health sector remains a big challenge.

Despite efforts by past and present governments, he said the country has still not realised the 15 percent Abuja target on health budget agreed over two decades ago.

During the training, Journalists learned the importance of building effective collaboration and partnership between civil society and the media on health advocacy and health reporting from Dr. Aminu Magashi, Founder and CEO AHBN, Nigeria.

Risk Communication Officer of the National Public Health Agency, Patrick Lansana enlightened journalists on the role of NPHA and the significance of health security, emergency pandemic preparedness and response.

Musa Ansumana Soko,a civil society activist took the participants through health financing and the importance of domestic revenue mobilisation and accountability reporting.

While discussion on ethics of media reporting and the need to maintain journalistic integrity and reporting on health security, emergency with pandemic preparedness and response was headed by Kemoh Charm, a Senior Journalist who represented SLAJ President.

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