Bo/Makeni, Jul. 14, 014 (SLENA) – The Ministry of Health and Sanitation in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) has concluded an orientation on the Ebola outbreak for media practitioners in the South, East and Northern regions
Addressing journalists at the Bishop Gbonda Resource Centre in Bo, the District Medical Officer, Dr. Alhaji Turay lauded the Ministry for organizing what he described as a move in the right direction, noting the strategic importance of Journalists in the fight to contain the deadly Ebola disease. Especially in the area of sensitization and awareness raising approach
He said no institution or individual can take sensitization to higher height successfully without the involvement of the media and encouraged participants to give the Ministry the desired support and cooperation as they return to their different press houses.
Dr. Turay noted the participation of the press in promoting the Free Health Care, the Rota Virus Vaccine, the Roll Back Malaria, HIV/AIDS, and recently the Cervical Cancer Vaccine, hoping that the objective of the orientation would not go in vain.
He spoke about the role the press played in contact tracing of some missing Ebola cases which he described as very commendable, and the fruitful collaboration between the Bo District Health Management Team and the press in Bo.
Making his remarks, Mr. Frederick Borbor James of UNICEF and member of the Communication Sub Committee on Ebola noted that the orientation would help the journalist report accurately on the outbreak as well helping to moderate programmes on Ebola at a satisfactory level on radio and television.
Dissemination of relevant information, Mr. Borbor James said is crucial and critical for the press noting the disaster and tragedy the disease would cause if journalists decide to take a back seat in the fight.
The SLAJ Regional President South, Mr.Samuel Haffner commended the Ministry for the timeliness in effecting such programmes for journalists across the country, and on behalf of his Association assured the Ministry and the government of his organization’s support at all times.
In a related development in Makeni, the Health Education Manager and Chairman of the Ebola National Communication Committee, Mr. Lansana Conteh, told his audience that the key messages and fact sheets including the posters on Ebola have been reviewed to making them reader friendly and visually knowledgeable for those that cannot read some of the materials.
He encouraged the participants to use these materials judiciously, and to help dispell rumors that negate the efforts of government.
The SLAJ Vice President, Stanley Bangura described the fight as collective efforts from its preparedness to the response stage.
He commended the Health Ministry for targeting the media and assured both WHO and the Ministry, of SLAJ’s support and cooperation noting that the Ebola case fatality should be a concern for every Sierra Leonean.
Highlights of the orientation include presentations on the current situation of Ebola disease in Sierra Leone by Health Communication Specialist Directorate of Disease Prevention and Control, Mr. Harold Thomas, Key issues and challenges in Ebola outbreak reporting by the Public Relations Officer, Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Mr. Jonathan Abass Kamara, and the Role of the World Health Organization in the outbreak by WHO Communication Officer, Mrs. Aminata Kobie.
Group discussion and plenary sessions formed part of the orientation.