Amref International University is set to offer short-courses for health journalists – facilitating them to generate factual and non-sensational reports.
The training institution, in partnership with Health Systems Advocacy Partnership (HSAP) project, has already developed a training curriculum – Model Curricula for Journalism Education: A Certificate in Health Reporting.
The objective for this course is two-fold: to acquaint health reporters with all aspects of the health beat and train them to generate compelling narratives; and to interpret health in political, socio-economic and medical contexts in ways that serve the public interest.
“It is hoped that the course will give impetus to the realisation of universal health coverage in Africa,” said Dr Joachim Osur, the Director Regional Programmes and Field Offices at Amref Health Africa.
“The role of media in enhancing development cannot be disputed. On matters of health, the media is vital in informing the populace and increasing their capacity to take charge of their health.”
The course covers: an introduction to health journalism; understanding the health sector; understanding medical studies; data reporting; covering disease outbreaks; reporting sexual and reproductive health and rights and covering hospitals.
Other modules include understanding the pharmaceutical industry; health in all policies; reporting medical and legal issues; pitching your story, as well as media and advocacy.
Media advocacy for health ensures that the right policies are enacted and also implemented to achieve a country’s health goals.
“For this to be realised, media practitioners must have the right skills to effectively contribute to improving the health of populations,” noted Dr Osur.
The first-ever course of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa also provides journalists with a set of skills and competencies to research and analyse health-related materials for reliability, thereby improving accuracy in reporting.
Dr Osur noted that while there is clamour to ‘overhaul’ the present journalism education system that has failed to produce ‘quality health journalists,’ this course is a ‘solid step’ towards this direction.
“The certificate course set to commerce later this year was created as a collaborative effort between health experts and media practitioners,” he said.
The programme which will be administered over a period of two weeks (60 hours), will go a long way in exposing professional journalists to a robust and immersive learning experience.
It also makes it possible for them (learners) to venture into small business endeavours, like blogging services to clients.
The course was created at the request of the Africa Media Network on Health (AMNH), who saw an educational training gap in today’s health journalism.
The AMNH – a brainchild of HSAP – is a team of highly acclaimed journalists and editors from Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda reporting on health systems strengthening at their respective countries and at the regional levels.
The delivery of the course will be both face-to-face classes as well as online (eLearning).