October 13, 2021
By Yusufu S. Bangura
With support from the World Health Organization (WHO), Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation through the Directorate of Health Security and Emergency have on Tuesday 12th October 2021, schooled journalists on Ebola Virus Disease and Marburg Virus Disease if they resurface in the country.
The orientation, which brought media practitioners together from across the Western Rural and Urban was held at the Mother and Child Health Clinic in Waterloo.
Welcoming the participants at the orientation, District Social Mobilization Coordinator and Risk Communication Lead at MOHS, Stephe Ibrahim Mohamed Koroma, said coronavirus is real and the delta variant of the virus was found in Sierra Leone which spreads more easily and makes people sick, adding that it started in 2020 in the western Rural.
“We have reached out to authorities within the western area and the reason why we are here is to train journalists on EVD and MVD for them to make impact in the lives of people in society,” he said.
He said NaCOVERC and partners have developed so many materials to control the pandemic, thus advising journalists to give out the right information about COVID-19 as the public relied on them for information.
Making her presentation, one of NaCOVERC communications officer, Yeama Thompson, said the purpose of the confab is to empowered journalists in their engagement in a digital society, adding that before a journalist share any information, they should cross check and double check the origin of the information.
She said everyone knew when the issue of public health arose which has remained a public concern.
She said it was media they first contact to educate the public on Corona and Marburg viruses, thus noting that public health is not only about the ministry of health, but for every person.
“We are now confronted with Ebola and that of Marburg. These diseases are not yet here, but we need to prepare for them and the media is key in this direction. We should not wait till the disease is here before we start fighting it. We are having this orientation for us to prepared ourselves,” she said.
Yeama explained that steps about sourcing information ranging from sharing, posting to reporting information should be key.
“Posting things because of posting is just not right. This same applies to sharing a scary or shocking information because we are worried that our loved ones aren’t taking precaution,” she said.
On the aspect of professional media ethics, madam Yeama said, media ethics is to minimize harm and that ethical journalism should be the bedrock in pandemic reporting.