Sun. Jul 21st, 2024

*We need to learn how to tell Africa’s stories the African way – Dr Engela 

…as ADReP Journalism Fellowship kicks off

Nnenna Ibeh

Experts across Africa have decried the limited knowledge about public health issues, diseases and health management among Africans.

Speaking at the introductory session of the Africa Disease Reporting Fellowship (ADReF) for African Journalists which kicked off on Monday, March 18, Diego Okenyodo, a pharmacist and development communication practitioner said stakeholders need to do more to close the health knowledge gaps among Africans.

ADReF, a six-week intensive disease reporting fellowship for journalists across Africa, was organised by the Africa Diseases Prevention and Research Development Initiative (ADRAP).

Noting that the African journalist’s fellowship was launched to contribute its quota in closing the knowledge gaps in disease reporting, Okenyodo said the ADReP is committed to delivering the expected results.

He said: “So what is this gap we had noticed? We noticed that first of all, when it comes to journalism, not all of us were trained journalists before coming into it. And then there are issues concerning ethical practice.

“There are issues concerning knowledge gaps and by the time you now come to a specialized field like health and disease, you also see that many people were first of all journalists before they were posted to the health beats so the understanding of disease and health are limited.

“One of these results is the improvement in the quality of health reporting and disease reporting, and that quality has to be from an African perspective that the African voice should be represented in global health and global disease reporting.”

In his address, the Chief Executive Officer and founder of ADReP, Joseph Enegela, welcomed the 2024 African Journalist Reporting fellows. Enegela, however, expressed worry that Africans seem to have taken the back seat while allowing others the privilege to tell their stories, thereby giving room for misrepresentation.

Continuing he said, “My biggest issue is that we don’t report our stories accurately or very well, we let outsiders tell our stories.”

Citing cases of COVID-19 vaccine shortages and lack of equity in its distribution across the continent, Enegela said he believes African journalists have huge roles to play in pushing the African perspective when it comes to health and disease reporting.

He encouraged the fellows to remain committed to honing their skills towards telling African health stories by highlighting the key issues that make Africans.

For ADReP’s first-ever health reporting fellowship, 14 African professionals were selected from a list of over one hundred applications across 22 African countries. The fellows have committed to a six-week intensive learning programme aimed at honing their skill sets in disease reporting from the African perspective.

The journalists include Nnenna Ibeh, Ojoma Akor, Justina Asishana, Adebowale Adedigba, Abdulbasid Yusuf (Nigerians), Jean De Dieu Ndikumasabo (Burundi), Milliam Murigi (Kenya) and Ridwan Karim (Ghana).  Others are Francine Andrew Saro, Moses Garzeawu, Zainab Adewale, Miriam Ileyemi, Folashade Akpan and Agbonkhese Oboh.

They will be working on special reports on specific topics relevant to the focus for each fellowship year. These would be curated during the period before an enlarged audience.

Topics to be covered during the fellowship period include Foundations of Health Journalism, Health Literacy, Research and Disease Reporting, Contextual Reporting of epidemics and Pandemics in Africa, Reporting Emerging Infectious and Non-Communicable Diseases (Focus on Ebola and Post-Partum Hemorrhage, and the role of Data in Disease Reporting.

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