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Thursday October 28, 2021

Orientation session held for journalists regarding health issues

October 14, 2021

ABBOTTABAD: A day-long orientation session for media persons was held at a local hotel to impart media skills and updated information for informed reporting on health issues that help address community misconceptions about essential immunisation.

Coordinator Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) Abdul Basit, Technical Focal Person EOC Dr Imtiaz Ali Shah, National Professional Officer WHO Dr Sarfaraz Afridi, Communication Development Officer NEOC Ejazur Rehman, Media Officer EOC Shadab Younas, senior journalist Mehmood Jan Babar and journalists from Peshawar were present on the occasion.

In the opening remarks, EOC Coordinator Abdul Basit welcomed all participants, saying that it is important that correct and authentic information is disseminated effectively through media and hoped that the activity would help equip the participants with the skills required for accurate reporting on health and polio-related incidents.

He said it is important to establish effective liaison with community and media and provide fact-based PEI related information to journalists. He urged participants to own this national cause and contribute stories, columns and features that build confidence and trust of the public in vaccination.

Technical Focal Person EOC Dr Imtiaz Ali Shah oriented journalists on global polio eradication initiative (GPEI), polio structures, national and regional polio updates, operational and communication challenges.

He said that due to government ownership and effective liaison with line departments, most of the operational and communication challenges in the programme have been addressed while serious efforts are in progress to fix the remaining gaps.

National Professional Officer World Health Organisation (WHO) Dr Sarfaraz Afridi oriented the participants about poliomyelitis, types and virus strains, history of disease, types of polio vaccines, vaccine safety and efficacy, repeated doses and requisites for certification of the last endemic region.

He explained how polio spreads, its prevention and shared global, national and regional polio updates, and also shed light on National Emergency Action Plan (NEAP) 2020 operational & communication priorities, national, provincial and district structures supporting and executing the polio eradication programme.

He also discussed key challenges for the Polio Eradication Initiative (PEI) with specific focus on high-risk districts of the province, saying that the virus is circulating in the region and is hitting unvaccinated children. Senior journalist Mehmood Jan Babar while taking a session on reporting polio discussed various tools and tips for authentic reporting, current media trends and impact of misreporting with specific reference to health reporting.

He emphasised on the need for being accurate and to clearly mention the source of the information apart from adding quotes of the relevant authorities to balance the news and make it more authentic. He said that pressure should be managed while reporting on health/ polio issues and solutions should be worked out to remain right and accurate while reporting health news that impacts the lives of the people.