The Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA), Ghana Journalists Association(GJA) and Private Newspapers Association of Ghana(PRINPAG) have been trained on risk communication to help spread facts in the fights against COVID -19.
The training led by the chairman of the national risk communication and social mobilisation committee of COVID-19, Dr Da Costa Aboagye sensitised participants on the coronavirus disease with some of the frequently asked questions , managing rumours, providing accurate , factual and up to date information to the public .
Dr Aboagye stressed the need to use only developed and approved materials from the Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service for public education in the fight against COVID-19.
He said the developed materials are in a form of a poster, leaflets, banners, pull ups and billboards.
He explained that effective communication using media tools will help create public awareness for behaviour change in the fight against COVID -19.
On authentic sources of information, Dr Aboagye sensitise participants to use the
COVID-19 GHS website, updates from the minister of health, updates from the Director General of the Ghana Health Service, updates from both Director of Public Health and Director of Health Promotion as accurate sources of information.
He therefore cautioned Practitioners against sensationalism and publishing opinions, as such publications would undermine the national efforts of fighting the coronavirus pandemic in Ghana.
Such reports would also stigmatise patients and discourage those suspected to be exposed to the disease from stepping out for testing.
Dr Aboagye, therefore, urged practitioners to only report facts and rely on the information on the disease provided by Ghana Health Service portal to arm the public with the knowledge they needed to stay protected and seek treatment when necessary.
“We would intensify public education, which would be in a form of documentary, drama, information on mandatory and self-isolation to ensure adequate understanding for behavioural change”, he said.
Citizens should maintain proper personal hygiene, eat healthily, have enough sleep and drink a lot of water, in addition to the prescribed social distance protocols.
He further his training presentation with an advise and education on social distancing.
The General Secretary of the Ghana Medical Association , Dr Justice Yankson admonished participants to follow their professional ethics in addition to the WHO protocol for reporting pandemics.
“The being the first to break the news syndrome will be fatal if we do not check certain facts,” he declared. “We will always want you to follow the best steps and in instances where you have the best lead, 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”.
Dr Yankson said in order not to crowd the media space with people who were not professionals, a list of resource persons had been made available nationwide who could be contacted to speak with the media on the issue in accordance with national protocols.
Since in health matters, prevention was better than cure they should send out messages on the preventive measures to prevent a crisis.
The other resource persons were Dr Anthony Nsiah Asare, the Presidential Adviser on health; Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, Deputy Information Minister Pius Hadzide and Mr Alex K. Abban, the Deputy Minister of Health and Mr Affail Monney, the President of the GJA.