The Kombra Media Network (KMN) with support from Health and Nutrition Sierra Leone Civil Society Platform (HANSL CSP), FOCUS 1000 and ACF, conducted a 3-day training from the 29th to 31st July 2015, for 52 (Fifty-Two) media practitioners selected across the country on ‘Ethics and Reporting on Health Issues’.
Facilitated by leading communication practitioners in Sierra Leone. The main purpose was to improve quality of reporting on nutrition, immunization and other health related issues by journalists committed to writing and reporting on health, to bring attention to issues impacting on health and development. The training used a mix of approaches; presentations, group work and fieldwork to engage participants and ensure increased knowledge through practice.
In achieving the set objectives of the training, participants were sent to Peripheral Health Units, Market Places and communities with established Mother Support Groups (MSGs) to conduct interviews on nutrition programmes and health care provision, Water and Sanitation and the impact of Ebola on food security.
Emerging issues from the field included a reduction in clinic attendance for pregnant women and lactating mothers due to the fear of contracting Ebola. This meant that children missed out on routine immunization and pregnant women did not attend antenatal clinic. In the communities where WASH facilities had been installed or improved, accompanied by hygiene education, communities reported a reduction in diarrhea and other water and hygiene related diseases. They even reported a reduction in teenage pregnancy rates within the communities as access to water was now nearer home. In the markets reporters found that businesses had been seriously affected by the outbreak leading to limited access to food leading to increase in the price of food commodities. The number of customers had gone down with government emergency strategy to discourage public gatherings in an effort to reduce the risk of Ebola transmission. Findings were used to produce feature stories for print media and radio packages, some of which were used to support this year’s World Breast feeding Week. At the end of the training media practitioners made a commitment to regular reports on nutrition and health from 1st of August as their contribution to World Breastfeeding Week. Plans were developed in line with the CSP activity plan for the rest of 2015.
Freetown, 29-31 July, 2015