The Ghana Health Service (GHS) has organised a workshop to train some media persons on public health emergencies and health reporting.
The training which was sponsored by the World Health Organisation (WHO) sought to sensitise the media on the impact their reports on public emergencies and health issues have on the society and also emphasized the need to avoid the high level of panic some of their reports create.
Participants of the workshop were trained to report public emergencies devoid of exaggerations and falsehood.
Dr Dennis Odai Laryea, a public health specialist, during a presentation on public emergencies, disclosed that public emergencies are health situations which are likely to cause panic in the society and, therefore, journalists must be cautious in the mode of reporting.
He said that public emergencies may be in the form of disease outbreaks -communicable diseases, fire outbreaks, accidents, floods, among others, and therefore the media must be cautious in reporting them as they appeal to human emotions.
Dr Laryea added that the media should confirm sources of information and be sure to publish public emergency issues without inciting fear and panic in the public and not to compete to be the first to publish public emergency news items regardless of the source of information.
Dr Kweku Rockson, a lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), training the media on health reporting, stated that health reporting competes with other socially relevant issues for public attention and, therefore, requires appropriate media, forms of representation and stylistic devices to arouse people’s interest.
He trained participants to use clear languages that the general population can understand whilst adequately addressing the respective target audience.
The lecturer added that health reporting should deploy various reporting formats and use different forms of media that are tailored to the interests and manners in which the respective target group accesses information. He advised the print media to endeavour to distribute their health publications via digital media.
Dr Rockson advised journalists to write health publications to meet ethical standards and principles, as well as preserve human rights and dignity and not to write based on personal values.
By Abigail Owiredu-Boateng