Over Twenty Journalists Benefit From One Day Media Health Reporting Training

By: Henry N. Kolenky

In a fight to fostering and boosting journalistic integrity and promoting ethical health reporting practices, Partners in Health Liberia, Thursday, has taken an innovative stance through a comprehensive training to 23 journalists in Brand and Prevention of Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Harassment (PSEAH) awareness. This initiative underscores the Partners In Health Liberia support and commitment to upholding professional standards and safeguarding the well-being of journalists including the society they are serving.

The intensive sessions on Thursday, February 22, 2024, include following topics the Role of Media in Health Advocacy, Community Health Programs, Building Partnerships and Promoting Public Image, and the Prevention of Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Harassment. Giving the opening statement, Partners in Health Liberia Deputy Executive Director, Viola Karanja said the training is meant to improve the journalist’s understanding of Partners In Health accompaniment of the County Health Team and Health care delivery in Maryland County and Liberia as a nation.

The interactive one day forum held in Harper City at the Dr. Elizabeth Davis- Russell Hall brought together print, electronic online platforms, community radio stations and newspaper correspondents on Thursday February 22, 2024.

During the opening section of the workshop Madam Viola Karanja, Deputy Executive Director of Partners In Health Liberia (PIH-L) told the gathering that Partners In Health is a humanitarian health organization that has lot of thematic areas that is not only limited to Tuberculosis and Human Immune Virus HIV treatment but also focusing on maternal and child health. Universal Health Coverage is a major priority of our institution. You cannot achieve your goal as a health worker if you don’t have the space to operate to provide the necessary supply needed to supplement government effort with materials, and medical assorted materials Viola Karanja quoted. The Deputy Executive Director told this paper that her institution is also building human capacity by training professional nurses and doctors who are specialized in critical care control and management. According to her, PIH is working with the Liberian Health Care System and has no intention of changing it.

Madam Celestine Browne, Prevention of Sexual Exploitation and Harassment PSEAH Safeguarding Manager, narrated that the PSEAH policy came to the public attention in 2001, during and after the civil unrest in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Celestine said this policy came to existence when others were using humanitarian aid and ration to sexual abuse and exploit women and children during refugee eras. The Safeguarding Manager explained further that sexual violence is a serious public health and human rights problem with short terms and long terms physical and mental problems on women. She pointed out that sexual exploitation is not about the experience and the time the victim spent in having sex but rather the person’s years of existence of reaching the actual age of independent decision making.

Also speaking during the workshop veteran Liberian journalist and former staff of the Daily Observer Newspaper now Communication Lead of PIH, Mr. Sam Zota, told reporters that Partners In Health Vision is to strive, to create a future in which every single person’s right to quality healthcare is guaranteed including providing preferential options for the poor in healthcare by long terms goals. Also speaking during the educational training the Partners In Health Communication Specialist, Luther Mafalleh said the role of the journalists in healthcare reporting is to inform, educate, and entertain. Mafalleh described the role of the media as vital and needs not to be overlooked and underestimated.  As a lead trainer for the training, he emphasized the importance of ethical reporting in maintaining public trust and credibility.

“Journalists play a crucial role in shaping public discourse and holding power to account. By providing training in Brand and PSEAH awareness, we are empowering you (journalists) to uphold the highest standards of professionalism and integrity in  reporting,” Mafalleh said.

The training initiative received a commendation from county-based journalists, and government officials represented by Maryland County Health Officer, Dr. Siedoh Freeman, who recognized the training’s significance in improving the quality and credibility of journalism in Maryland County.

Maryland County Health Officer has lauded the invaluable partnership between electronic and print media reporters and healthcare providers for championing public health initiatives. Dr. Siedoh Freeman’s commendation came during the ongoing Partner in Health PSEAH Media Relations training in Harper, where stakeholders converge to enhance their collaborative efforts in promoting health issues.

In her opening remarks at the training, on Thursday, February 22, Maryland Country Health Officer described the role of the county journalists as  a pivotal role they play in disseminating accurate, credible, and timely information to the community. She acknowledged their commitment to raising awareness about critical health matters, ranging from vaccination campaigns to disease prevention strategies.

“Our county journalists are our beloved and trusted educational partners in reaching every part of our six Health Districts with cardinal health information. Their dedication to investigative reporting and public service journalism has been instrumental in fostering a healthier and more informed populace.”

The training session serves as a platform for health officials and media practitioners to exchange ideas, share best practices, and strengthen their collaborative efforts. Dr. Freeman emphasized the importance of accurate and evidence-based reporting in combating misinformation and promoting health literacy. She highlighted the need for journalists to critically evaluate sources, verify information, and present complex health issues in a comprehensible manner that will aid in informing, educating and sensitizing the public on critical and non-critical health conditions.

Meanwhile former Radio Harper Manager and current Correspondent of the Daily Observer Newspaper Edward Stemn and former ELBC Correspondent   Emmanuel Wilson, Of Voice of Hope, who spoke on behalf of their colleagues lauded PIH-Liberia, and described the initiative as a great milestone in the media landscape of the county, “Investing in the capacity building of journalists is essential for fostering a vibrant and responsible media landscape. This training equips journalists with the tools they need to navigate ethical challenges and uphold the public interest.”  Edward Stemn explained,

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