HEJNU TRAINS JOURNALISTS TO USE SOLUTIONS JOURNALISM FOR COVID-19 REPORTING

Solutions journalism training in progress

BY KIGEZI NEWS AGENCY TEAM

KAMPALA: MONDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2021

The Coronavirus pandemic has led to an explosion of fake information that is driving vaccine hesitancy and apathy among the public.

The negative impact created by concerns about the side effects, effectiveness and safety of vaccines, most notably, being circulated on the social media has severely hampered the uptake of vaccines considered to be the most potent tool to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

To address this problem, the Health Journalism Network in Uganda (HEJNU) in collaboration with Africa Health Solutions Journalism Initiative (AHSJI) have organised a two-day workshop for health journalists in Uganda on how to use Solutions journalism approach to report about Covid-19.

In order to realize a positive outcome, Dr Daniel Kyabayinze, an epidemiologist and director at Health Alert urged journalist to combat the misinformation and myths with facts.

He noted that three key interventions have been implemented both in Uganda and world over- treatment at health facilities and at homes, a combination of social distancing, sanitizer use and hand washing and vaccination.

“In the absence of very effective treatment options and low adherence to the known public health and social measures, vaccination is the most potent means to save lives, protect the health system, reinvigorate livelihoods and reopen the economy,” he said.

Dr Kyabayinze pointed out that since the commencement of the vaccination programme in Uganda in March 2021, nobody who is fully immunized against Covid-19 has died in Uganda while Covid-19 deaths among those partially immunized stands at 18.1% and deaths among those unvaccinated people is at a staggering 34.8%.

As the country expects to acquire more vaccines to scale up inoculation, Dr Kyabayinzi implored journalists to spread the facts about vaccination.

Esther Nakkazi, president of the HEJNU underlined that a solutions journalism approach would enable the journalists to produce rigorous articles that explain the solutions to the Covid-19 pandemic and limitations to those solutions.

Such reporting approach, she explained, would build public confidence, increase readers perception and boost their positivity.

“Solutions Journalism is not public relations. It is thorough reporting that builds on four pillars – response, evidence, insight and limitations to solutions,” she asserted.

The training held at Fareway Hotel in Kampala is also available online to upcountry journalists who are able to follow it through a zoom link.

To sustain these efforts, Daniel Otunge, Project Lead at the AHSJI, assured that the organization, working with its partners would be conducting more capacity building and story grant programmes for science journalists and publish well researched articles in various communication channels.

“AHSJI believes that people and policy makers will respond better to health problems if the media reports positive information. Write stories in solutions journalism perspective,” he urged journalists.

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