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20.06.2005 General News

Develop pool of Journalists in Pharmaceutical Reporting

GNA

Accra, June 20, GNA - Mr Robert Kafui Johnson, General Manager Ghana News Agency, on Monday called for a conscious and sustained effort to develop a pool of Journalists specialising in pharmaceutical reporting to improve the understanding and use of drugs by the public. He, therefore, advocated the setting up of a special fund to which Pharmaceutical firms could contribute to step up the training of interested Journalists in the field and to enhance the infrastructure in the training institutions.

Mr Johnson was presenting a paper on: "The Media as a Tool to Improve Pharmaceutical Services", at a three-day conference on "Strategies for Enhancing Access to Medicine (SEAM) Programme" in Accra.

SEAM was established by the Management Services for Health with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to improve access to essential medicines in developing countries. It is a five year programme that aims to increase access by improving the systems through which drug were supplied as well as the quality of the drug products and the pharmaceutical services provided to consumers.

Mr Johnson said the lack of specialists' knowledge on the subject of pharmacy was preventing most Journalists from communicating effectively to the public on the dangers of misuse and misapplication of drugs. He said the problem stemmed from the absence of a pharmaceutical communication programme in the traditional media training institutions and urged support for such institutions to be able to incorporate pharmaceutical reporting into their academic programmes.

"As long as we do not have professional pharmacists desiring to train to become reporters in pharmaceutical communication, opportunities must be created for Journalists to be able to train in reporting on the industry," he said. He stressed that the Media as agenda setters had the power to transmit values by enforcing social norms through their coverage and ensure the relevant public education as well as create a good atmosphere for the necessary policy interventions.

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