Barely days after COVID-19 cases surged to 32 in Maryland County, the county’s health team in collaboration with USAID and STAIP has trained local journalists to report effectively on the virus.
The training, held Saturday, 29 August in the conference room of the County Referral Hospital in Harper City, brought together 18 media workers from several community radio stations operating in all three electoral districts of Maryland.
Community health director J. Kollie Napolu, said the said the exercise was intended to provide journalist additional knowledge on reporting COVID-19 cases.
He noted that the media plays a very major role in disseminating information about daily occurrences, so it needs adequate education about the pandemic.
He said though there are misconceptions about transmission mode of transmission of the virus, the media can help to provide awareness that would clear doubts and fear among citizens.
The community health director stressed that if Maryland County and Liberia at large would progress in the fight against the Coronavirus, the media should be involved in the process by producing jingles and radio drama in various dialects to sensitize citizens about preventive measures.
He continued that once information is disseminated properly by the media thru various platforms, citizens will be left with no fear but rather to visit health facilities daily to know their health status.
“Please, as you are hearing some of these new things today, use it to help the County Health Team because to where your information reaches when you are on the radio station, a takes us time to get there.”
Mr. Napolu disclosed that since the county recorded its index case of the virus about three months ago, there has been reduction in visitation to health facilities by citizens, as most of them still live with fear that the virus is mainly at health centers.
“Let me encourage you to always seek the rightful information from the County Health Teams, National Public Health Institute of Liberia (NPHIL)and the World Health Organization (WHO) whenever you are reporting on Coronavirus pandemic because these people provide accurate information of the virus”, he encouraged the participants.
“So you see one of the major reasons why we want you guys as journalists to help us as County Health Team to continued telling the people about the transmission and sad effects it will cause to stay away from the health facilities.”
Another facilitator, Ms Comfort, cautioned the media against politicizing the health crisis, noting that though some media houses were seeking rightful information about the virus, others don’t care to seek clarity, but rather prefer to report rumors that lack facts.
Meanwhile, local journalists who benefited the training have lauded the County Health Teams, USAID and STAIP for the additional knowledge provided them, promising to share what they learnt with their colleagues.
By Patrick N. Mensah, Maryland– Editing by Jonathan Browne