The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Wednesday organised a training workshop on reporting COVID-19 and its related issues for 32 journalists in Enugu State.
The training, tagged: “COVID-19 sensitisation for media practitioners’’, was organised in conjunction with the State Government.
In a speech during the exercise, Dr Ikechukwu Chidolue, the Focal Person, WHO Enugu State Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE), said the training was designed to equip journalists on how to ensure positive and accurate reportage of COVID-19 issues.
Chidolue said the exercise also availed journalists the opportunity to know that they remained critical stakeholders in the fight just as those in the medical profession.
“The essence of the training is for journalists to disseminate accurate, timely and verified information to the public and also expand their knowledge on the COVID-19 issues.
“We have exposed several dangers of complacency to the second wave of the pandemic to them today.
“We want journalists to step what they have learnt today down by using their various platforms to propagate the message of adhering strictly to the COVID-19 protocols and government guidelines.
“There is a need for us to spread the message of the reality of COVID-19.
“And through proper information check uninformed beliefs and superstition still held by some section of society,’’ he said.
Chidolue urged journalists to revitalise all known mechanisms, programmes and write-ups used in fighting the first wave of the virus, especially that of personal, social and environmental hygiene practices.
“There is a need to start sensitising our people again on handwashing with soap for 20 seconds, use of hand sanitisers and face masks, maintaining physical distancing and sneezing or coughing into our elbows.
“There is a need to scale-up family, neighbourhood and general environmental hygiene as well as listen and adhere to professional advice from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control in order to win the battle against the virus,’’ he said.
Mr Maxwell Obeka, Acting WHO Coordinator in the state, called on journalists to cooperate with the government, international health agencies and affiliates to check the spread of the virus in the state and beyond.
“The state Ministry of Health, international health agencies and affiliate offices and phone numbers are open for any verification or clarification on any matter on COVID-19 before publishing or going on air.
“We sincerely believe that with journalists’ partnership and cooperation, the work of health workers in the frontline will be made easier,’’ Obeka said.