By Xueying Luo
In order to improve health communication in Africa, several institutions, including the Institute for International Journalism (IIJ) at Ohio University, organized the 2011 International Health and Development Communication Conference in Nairobi, Kenya. The IIJ delegation held training workshops and presentations at the conference.
Given the inconsistency between the generation and dissemination of health information, the conference aims to provide an efficient collaboration between health practitioners, both those who have experience in health and journalism and those who have the ability to disseminate that expertise.
As the conference stated on its website, “ the availability to the general public of information on health is critical for social development.” Delegates from different institutions addressed the status of health communication in Africa and discussed the approaches to improve the health communication for the sake of empowering people effectively. The conference ran from June 25 to 29.
Dr. Yusuf Kalyango, assistant professor and director of IIJ at Ohio University, presented the paper titled “Journalism Training, Practice and the National Development Agenda” at the conference. He said African journalists should be given a lot of praise and respect because of the bad conditions within which they report.
"I remember personally I went to cover hebora when it broke out and I knew I would have died within three hours but I did it, and I saw how people were dying, the pain that they were going through, but that's like a breaking story that you cover once in a year, but you know these journalists go and cover stories every single day that actually has some component of health," said Kalyango on the Bizcommunity.com, on July 4.
Kalyango also said that these bad conditions have impeded the growth of African journalism even though there are still journalists risking their lives by exposing themselves to deadly diseases to cover health stories. In addition to the inferior physical conditions, the lack of freedom in the private-owned media and limited funding are other bad conditions African journalists are facing, he added.
"And I believe African journalists would do a better job if conditions were made better by organizations who fund media performance," he said on the Bizcommunity.com.
As a delegate of IIJ, Kalyango suggested that more training workshops and reporting tools be available to journalists as well as to open up the relationship between journalists and health practitioners.
Dr. Aimee Edmondson, assistant professor in the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, held a workshop about Computer Assisted Reporting to facilitate the health reporting in Africa. This training program was rated as the best training workshop of the conference.
As part of the conference, the IIJ delegation took a safari tour and visited the slums and villages in Nairobi, Kenya.
Tours in Kenya