UNICEF organizes a workshop for effective reporting on children’s health

The United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF collaborated with the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism (MCJ) of Maulana Azad National Urdu University (UNAMI) for the Effective Reporting Workshop on the health of the child.

A two-day workshop on evidence-based health journalism organized by the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism (MCJ) of Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), in association with UNICEF, s is completed today.

More than 120 journalism and mass communication students from UNAMI, Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC) and University of Himachal Pradesh and health journalists learned the importance of evidence-based reporting and fact-checking in health journalism through UNICEF’s Critical Appraisal Skills (CAS) programme.

The workshop brought together CAS practitioners, journalism students and subject matter experts to discuss the importance of evidence-based journalism in areas that impact children, such as routine immunization, Covid-19 and vaccines, antibiotics, maternal and child health and primary health care.

UNICEF, OXFORD, REUTERS DEVELOPED A CASE

The CAS programme, developed in 2014 by UNICEF, in association with the University of Oxford, Thomson Reuters and IIMC to work with health journalists and students of journalism and mass communication, was later adapted as as optional module in their program by IIMC and MANUU.

In his address at the inauguration of the workshop, Professor Syed Ainul Hasan, Vice-Chancellor of UNAMI, said: “The recent pandemic has drawn the world’s attention to the importance of communication when it comes to health. The media can play a vital role in creating demand for vaccination.

However, as many of our journalists come from a non-medical background, the introduction of CAS at the university level helps train journalists in health journalism and encourages a scientific mindset among the masses.

Speaking at the inauguration, Zafrin Chowdhury, Head of Communications, Advocacy and Partnerships, UNICEF India, said, “UNICEF has a long history of working with the media on their vital role in shaping opinions and influence on people. The Critical Appraisal Skills course was developed in 2014 to strengthen media professionals for accurate, balanced analytical reporting and fact-checking to guard against misinformation. The idea is to increase accurate and reliable media reporting on issues that affect children, such as vaccination, to provide parents with the right information and the confidence to vaccinate their children and protect them against preventable childhood diseases.

Lack of awareness, alarmism and misconceptions regarding vaccination have been major challenges during the Covid-19 vaccination program and routine vaccination.

Professor Ehtesham Ahmed Khan, Dean of the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism, MANUU, said: “Misconceptions, myths and misinformation harm society more than lack of information. In a pandemic situation, misinformation and disinformation can derail the reach of public health programs and harm people.

The CAS plays an important role in building a holistic 360-degree science-based communications narrative, countering misinformation, promoting awareness, building media capacity, rigorous analysis of news stories, official/authoritative scientific discourses and thought-provoking series in the media. to counter any negative discourse.

Dr. NK Arora, Chair of the COVID-19 Task Force, National Immunization Technical Advisory Group, engaged virtually with students and journalists on Covid-19 vaccination and urged the media to find innovative ways to break information fatigue and encourage eligible people to take all their vaccine doses on time.

Participants, students and senior mentors of the Critical Appraisal Skills course, shared their experiences reporting on health during the pandemic. Learnings will feed into the course update.

Professor (Dr) Sangeeta Pranvendra, Course Director, Department of English Journalism at IIMC, New Delhi, said, “The Covid 19 pandemic has brought to the fore a situation where the media fraternity has again realized the need to have well-informed and critical-thinking journalists who could play a positive role in reporting on health issues, informing the public and also preventing misinformation. CAS contributes greatly to developing these skills in journalism students.

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