14th June 2024

Members of a team of resource persons leading the battle against the coronavirus disease outbreak in Ghana have urged journalists to report facts and not opinion on Covid-19 in order to spread calm rather than panic among the public.

At a sensitization workshop for senior media practitioners on Covid-19 in Accra on Monday, they cautioned journalists against sensationalism and publication of opinions that may seek to undermine the national efforts at preventing the spread of the disease.

Professionalism

The Presidential Adviser on Health, Dr Anthony Nsiah Asare, noted that reports that have the tendency to stigmatise patients and discourage those suspected to be exposed to the disease from stepping out for testing must be discouraged.

He admonished the media practitioners to report facts and rely on information on the disease provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ghana Health Service (GHS) portals to equip the public with the knowledge they need to stay protected, and seek treatment when necessary.

He also encouraged the media to seek answers to their queries from persons who have been authorised, from the district to the national levels, by the technical teams for the purpose.

The Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah stated that the experience from China indicate that the media played a very critical role in providing information that empowered citizens to limit community spread.

Mr Oppong Nkrumah underscored the need to shape the discussions on the disease, adding “it is important for media practitioners to have deep knowledge, familiarise themselves with the technical information and present them in a professional manner.”

WHO protocol

The General Secretary of Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Dr Justice Yankson, tasked the media to follow their professional ethics in addition to the WHO (World Health Organisation) protocols for reporting on the pandemic.

He urged journalists to desist from rushing to be the first to break the news, stressing the need to cross-check the facts to avoid fatality reports on the disease. “Confirm with the appropriate person, otherwise in your rush you might send out messages that can be detrimental to the national efforts and confuse a lot more people,” he cautioned.

The Director of Health Promotion and Chairman of the Risk Communication and Social Mobilisation at GHS, Dr Da-Costa Aboagye, assured that the government would intensify public education, which would be in a form of documentary, drama, and information on mandatory and self-isolation, to ensure adequate understanding for behaviourial change.

He entreated citizens to maintain proper personal hygiene, eat well, have enough sleep and drink a lot of water, in addition to the prescribed social distance protocols.

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