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PIH-Liberia trains 23 Journalists on health reporting

By Patrick N. Mensah, Maryland County

Maryland County Health Team in collaboration with Partners In Health (PIH) Liberia, a non-profit, global health organization has trained 23 Journalists across Maryland County in health reporting.

The day-long training was held in Harper City on Thursday, February 22, bringing together health workers, Journalists, PIH Duty Executive Director Viola Karanja, Maryland County Health Officer, Dr. Suedoh Freeman, PIH Communication Specialist Luther Mafalleh, Sam Zota, PIH Communication Lead, PSEAH/ Safeguarding manager Celestine Browne, and others.

PIH Duty Executive Director Viola Karanja said the training was aimed at educating media on its health reporting and to building partnerships in promoting images and strategies for collaborative reporting, being cognizant of its vision and mission in the past ten years in Liberia, working with the Government of Liberia.

She disclosed that PIH is one of the world’s leading academic institutions, working to create rigorous evidence that shapes more sound and all-inclusive global health policies while supporting local governments’ efforts to build capacity and strengthen national health systems.

According to her, the organization runs programs in 11 countries, four (4) in Africa and seven (7) out of Africa.

She names Haiti, Peru, Rwanda, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Malawi, Lesotho, Russia, Kazakhstan, and Navajo Nation, where it provides direct care to millions of patients, through public facilities and community engagement.

She underscores that the organization focuses specifically on those who would not otherwise have access to quality health care through its four pillars.

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Those pillars include Investing in the next generation through capacity building, Universal Health Coverage for the needy, enforcing greatness through medical assistants and patients’ visitation, and Translating evidence into policy.

Madam Karanja recalled that during the Ebola outbreak of 2014 and 2015, Partners In Health worked closely with the government to help control the spread of the virus through patient accompaniment, training, and expertise to support treatment centers.

 PIH expanded its mission to strengthen and rebuild Liberia’s health systems, using our approach that had proved successful in countries like Haiti and Rwanda, Karanja explained.

She noted that in 2016, PIH Liberia launched a mental health program in Harper and Pleebo, Maryland County to provide needed mental health care.

The program collaborates closely with the Ministry of Health to integrate mental health into primary care, drive innovation through community and outpatient mental health programming, and strengthen capacity of clinical providers and community health workers (CHWs)

“So, with these highlighted efforts, if the media is not involved, we believe we can’t achieve these goals and that’s why we are providing these opportunities for you to be able to help us in educating our people out there.”

She stressed that for society to be healthier, help from the media is needed and that the Fourth Estate shouldn’t only be used by politicians but should play a key role in changing the narrative through proper information sharing.

Also speaking, County Health Officer Dr. Suedoh Freeman lauded the media for the role it played in highlighting health issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said despite challenges, the media is most needed in reporting accurate, factual, and balanced health information that will help to reduce myths and wrong perceptions about the health system here.

The newly appointed CHO pointed out that the county health team is willing to work with the media in promoting the one health policy.

She detailed that Maryland County has 28 health facilities, five of them are privately operated, while 23 are public institutions with six health districts.

Communication Specialist and Lead Trainer, Luther Mafalleh, emphasized the importance of ethical reporting in maintaining public trust and credibility.

He said the media plays a crucial role in shaping the public through social behavior change.

“So, we believe by providing these training in Brand and PSEAH awareness you will uphold to the highest standards of accurate, balanced and credible reporting”,  Mr. Mafalleh noted.

Meanwhile, beneficiaries of the exercise have commended PIH-Liberia for the opportunity, adding that the training has provided them a clear understanding of health reporting and what they need to do to improve the health sector of the county.

“We have appreciated PIH-Liberia for this training, and we believe this shouldn’t be the first, neither the last.” Editing by Jonathan Browne

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