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CPHIA Introduces Journalism Fellowship; Malawian Journalist Hails the Move

Dispelling myths surrounding vaccines such as cholera vaccine has been one of roles media must take Dispelling myths surrounding vaccines such as cholera vaccine has been one of roles media must take - file photo

The Conference in Public Health in Africa (CPHIA) says it will launch the journalism fellowship in its quest to arm journalists with necessary knowledge to effectively cover issues pertaining public health in the continent.

The fellowship is an extra mile taken by CPHIA which has, for the past two years, been supporting African journalists to cover the conference.

Nekerwon Gweh, Communication Officer, Policy, Health Diplomacy and Communication for Africa CDC, says the fellowship programme will support journalists in their coverage across a five-month period.

“This initiative will provide journalists with the necessary tools to immerse themselves in learning, reporting, and elevating some of the most pressing public health issues on the continent.

“As part of this Fellowship, journalists will also be supported to attend the 2023 in-person conference in Lusaka, Zambia, where they will be given access to training, side events and panel discussions, exhibitions and conference spokespeople,” Gweh said.

Gweh says that health reporting has had its own share of challenges facing the health sector in Africa, especially during the outbreak of diseases which will be addressed by the programme.

“Journalists have had to navigate through the massive flow of rumours or misinformation to get factual information about a particular disease to educate the public.

“The availability of key experts to speak to reporters about critical health topics is most time a nightmare. These are some of the gaps that CPHIA is trying to remedy by creating such platforms to give journalists easy access and facilitate smooth engagement with African health experts and researchers from all over Africa,’ said Gweh.

“The fellowship will provide an opportunity for those selected journalists/health reporters to attend the conference in-person and enable them to engage and connect with key stakeholders in the public health sector who shape public health policy on the continent, in addition to other benefits like mentorship and training opportunities after the main event in Lusaka,” Gweh added. 

Christopher Sande, a Malawian journalist, says when COVID-19 was declared a public health threat in Malawi, he faced various challenges to write and report about the pandemic.

“There was proliferation of fake news about the disease, how it spreads, vaccines and how to treat it. It was so hard to understand it being the new pandemic in the country. Dispelling the myths and misconceptions surrounding it required intense trainings. Now that there is a fellowship to help journalists on how to approach issues concerning public health in Africa, that is commendable. I hope that journalists in Africa will be well armed to approach various public health issues such as outbreaks,” he said in response to the news about CPHIA fellowship programme.

The scholarships covers journalists’ expenses for the duration of the conference, enabling them to engage and connect with key stakeholders in the public health sector who shape public health policy on the continent.

During this year’s conference, CPHIA is taking a step further in its engagement with the media to bring editors from the five African Union regions to focus on fostering collaborative journalism, sharing best practices, and shaping impactful public health narratives across the continent.

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