COVID19 VACCINATION SUCCESS WILL PARTLY DEPEND ON THE SOLUTIONS JOURNALISM

By Mercy Ahimbisibwe

Daniel Otunge, the Deputy Executive Director of Science Africa, has appreciated its partners who have made it possible for Uganda to host the second Solutions Journalism workshop in 2020. Solutions Journalism should be integrated with covid19 reporting so that people appreciate what is going on in the communities.

He said this at a two-day training that targeted Kampala and Rural Based Journalists that attended through zoom.

Ester Nakkazi the founder of Health Journalism Network in Uganda said Solutions Journalism will help to reduce vaccination misinformation.

“We have identified top scientists in Uganda who will share all the facts around covid19 in Uganda so that it can be disseminated. We are giving you this knowledge so that you become experts in your communities”, said Nakkazi.

The training is to equip the media with the right information on the COVID-19 vaccines and four pillars that make solutions journalism an exciting way of telling stories.

Journalists play a key role in helping educate people and political leaders about the covid19 pandemic. Through its training, will reduce on misinformation.

How important are science journalists?
The role of science journalism is not only to explain the results of scientific studies to a general audience but also to help distinguish between well-supported and weak conclusions and examine possible conflicts of interest on the part of the scientists.

Dr. Misaki Wayengera, a member of the COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Committee in Uganda addressed the media on vaccines. He said Uganda has received donated vaccinations to help start the exercise as buying was difficult due to conditions beyond us.

“We receive these donated vaccines from friends of Uganda who are willing to share as Uganda waits to receive its vaccines bought with taxpayers’ money. Those saying the vaccines are expired are not having enough facts”, said Wayengera.

The vaccines so far received in Uganda include  AstraZeneca, Mordena, Sinovac, Pfizer/BioNTech, and Johnson & Johnson single-dose vaccines that are going to be given to communities in hard to rich areas and those that are mobile.

The Africa Health Solutions Journalism Initiative (AHSJI) has committed to training more Ugandan journalists to blend solutions journalism with investigative reporting of health.

Daniel Otunge, the project lead at AHSJI made the disclosure to health journalists during a two-day training that ended at Fareway hotel in Kampala on Tuesday.

Other upcountry journalists followed via a video link the training that focused on preparing the journalists to use Solutions Journalism approach for reporting Covid-19.

Based in Nairobi, Kenya, AHSJI’s objectives are to build the capacity of health journalists, editors and educators in solutions journalism and to increase collaboration among journalists and communities for effective solutions journalism based health reporting.

The others are to contribute to health policy processes by sharing relevant information with responsible state agencies and to disseminate curated issue-specific solutions journalism stories to the public for behavior change.

Otunge said to back up its training and interventions with evidence, the organization conducts various opinion surveys and content analyses to determine trends of media coverage of health and its impact on communities.

AHSJI commit to training more Ugandan Journalists

They also carry out fellowship programs targeting newsroom staff and freelance journalists based on the recommendations of institutional partners.

Under the fellowship program, AHSJI offers a year-long Master’s degree program aimed at creating cohorts of skilled and energetic solutions journalism scholars who embrace and impact solutions approach and help to spread it to their students and professional peers.

Otunge added: “Not many journalists and editors are conversant with solutions journalism tools, techniques, and approaches. AHSJI will organize a series of seminars, workshops, and conferences with a view to strengthen the capacity of journalists in solutions journalism.”

“A comprehensive curriculum, developed through a participatory process with the Solutions Journalism Network will guide the process,” said Otunge.

For the case of Uganda, he committed to work with the Health Journalism Network in Uganda (HEJNU) to organize the training mentorship program.

He explained that mentor-ship is critical because participation in a single workshop and reading solutions journalism literature online are not enough to make one an accomplished solutions journalism reporter.

solutions journalism explained

Esther Nakkazi, the HEJNU president said she was excited about the proposal and commitment to training more journalists, especially those based upcountry to do better solutions journalism health stories.

HEJNU is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to advancing public understanding of health care issues in Uganda.

The organization has over 70 members, all working journalists who are reporting on health in various media houses all over country-in print, TV, radio, and online.

It also has non-journalist partners it works closely with including scientists, researchers, and health communication professionals, Nakkazi said.

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