JOURNALISTS have been tasked to assist medical personnel in educating the citizens about the various infections and the preventive methods so as to be protected.
This charge was given by the Oyo State Coordinator, World Health Organisation (WHO), Phillips Zorto, during a capacity building programme organised for journalists by Oyo State Emergency (EOC) in collaboration with Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Oyo State Chapter and funded by World Health Organisation on Tuesday.
Dr Zorto noted that media practitioners have so much to do in disseminating proper information and admonished journalists to ensure their health reports are validated by experts before publishing.
He explained that it was only when such reports were validated that a journalist could be sure of passing the right information to the public, adding that media personnel should be able to set the agenda on health reportage instead of creating panic for the public.
In her welcome remarks, Oyo State Director of Public Health, Dr Olubunmi Ayinde said the capacity training was an opportunity to enlighten journalists about epidemiology diseases in order to educate members of the public.
Also speaking, the state epidemiologist, Dr Akinfemi Akinyode, explained that the training was organised to ensure that journalists have the necessary information about COVID-19 and other diseases.
“This training is organised to ensure that journalists have necessary information to give to the public. So that appropriate message can be passed to the members of the public”.
In a lecture entitled, ‘The Role of Media in Diseases Emergencies Response’, Oyo State Chairperson of NAWOJ, Jadesola Ajibola urged all tiers of government, security agencies and development partners to recognise journalists as frontline workers during emergency periods.
Mrs Ajibola opined that journalists usually play important roles during emergencies such as the outbreak of pandemics like COVID-19, cholera, during wars, crises just like other professionals such as medical workers and security agents.
She advised that reports must not be written to scare the public but to give accurate information.
Speaking on COVID-19 during the capacity building programme, Dr Oluyinka Dania with WHO, identified refusal of COVID testing, neglect of preventive measures , new variants, poor vaccine coverage, poor awareness on who is a suspected case, risk of importation by travelers as some factors responsible for increase of the pandemic.
Dr Dania stressed that keeping COVID-19 cases down was a collective responsibility.
In his training on Tuberculosis, Dr Adeniyi Adeniran noted that TB screening, drugs were free, adding that services are available in all local government areas of Oyo State.
Other speakers who spoke on other infections such as Monkey pox, Lassa fever, Yellow Fever, Meningitis and Neo-Natal Tetanus all appealed to the public not to overlook any sign but report such at the nearest hospital.