Afghanistan Health Reporting

The BBG office of Development and International Media Training with the support of the VOA (Voice of America) and RFE/RL (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty) and the generous support of OES/State implemented a 2.5 day training session for Afghan journalists in Dubai with the goal of gaining a better understanding of avian and pandemic influenza and other diseases, to provide accurate, responsible, and supportive coverage of disease outbreaks and/or disasters, and to help them develop and improve journalism skills for health and disaster preparedness coverage.  Both Agencies identified Afghanistan as an important venue to share information and skills set with journalists from various platforms.

During the training journalists discussed journalism ethics, balance, accuracy of reporting and value and protection of sources of information.  Also discussed at length was the framing of each subject within the context of creating reports, features and interviews about critical issues. An important segment of the second day discussion was dedicated to discuss best language to use while reporting about complex topics or clinical/medical issues that are most commonly communicated by doctors, nurses or scientists but need to be conveyed to the population at large in simple, direct and clear terms to avoid anxiety, stigmatization or confusion.

Reporters had a total of five practical exercises over the 2.5 days of training where each was asked to post their articles, research and share their newly acquired knowledge with other members of the group and critique each other’s work.

Among other related topics that were also discussed during the exercises and info sessions, the group was also able to address issues that they thought were important specifically to their country such as drug manufacturing, labor impact during a crisis, cost and access to proper care and the social responsibility of their leaders to create an environment conducive to positively improve the health care needs of all Afghanis. They indicated that through their work they want government officials to be more responsive to the health needs of their people.

This workshop was a part of theTraining for Journalists & Journalism Educators on Disaster Preparedness & Avian Influenza:” Indonesia, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Afghanistan (in Dubai, UAE), and Georgia, “ March – July 2013, funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Oceans, International Environment, and Scientific Affairs.