During a pandemic, media plays a crucial role in communicating public health and policy information. When COVID-19 spread like wildfire in 2020, the role of media as the primary source of public information became more evident. However, as COVID-19 cases continued to scourge, journalists were faced with new challenges in their work.
Understanding how medical science works, knowing how to interpret scientific communications, and factchecking information in the middle of lockdowns became more important than ever. That is why DNDi Africa Regional office organized a journalist workshop in 2020 for 22 health reporters from 12 African countries. Participants were invited from Burkina Faso, Côte d’ Ivoire, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, Togo, and Uganda.
The workshop was a hands-on opportunity to foster open discussions with a group of journalists who were already reporting on COVID-19. The objective of the sessions was to give health reporters some key information to better understand how medical research is conducted – especially COVID-19 research in Africa – and better inform their audience about these central issues.
Financed by the French embassy in Nairobi, the workshop was organized around the launch of the ANTICOV clinical trial, a large COVID-19 study organized in in 13 African countries and coordinated by 26 leading African and international R&D institutions. This trial served as an opportunity for reporters to engage with scientists involved in it and report on COVID-19 research activities.
After the workshop, the journalists applied for financial grants to cover health-related stories in their respective countries.
10 reporters were eventually awarded a travel grant to document stories around the clinical trials and COVID-19 research. The stories focused on the impact of the disease, demystifying diagnosis and treatment, and the role of African scientists in COVID-19 research.
Below are some of the stories that were published by the journalists:
- Ethiopian press – ‘COVID-19 as a big lesson to reform Africa’s health sector’
- Actualité CD (DRC) – RDC : l’impact de la Covid-19 sur la lutte contre la maladie du sommeil (avis des spécialistes)
- Univers Sciences (Guinea) – Guinée : les laboratoires de diagnostic équipés pour faire face aux épidémies dont le Coronavirus
- KTN News (Kenya) – Kenya’s journey towards human vaccine manufacturing | Health Watch
- Africa Blogging (Côte D’Ivoire) – Covid-19 : L’Afrique va-t-elle dompter la pandémie
- L’Essor (Mali) – Recherche: Le contrecoup de la COVID-19
- The Ethiopian Herald (Ethiopia) – Investing in own clinical trials, narrowing down vaccine inequalities
- Africa Blogging (Côte D’Ivoire) – Covid-19 : La Côte d’Ivoire est-elle guérie ?
- Science Watch Infos – Les maladies tropicales négligées :: Au top de leur délaissement au Cameroun
- Ghana News Agency – COVID-19 sparking Africa’s search for ‘homemade’ cure for other diseases
Photo credit: Lameck Ododo-DNDi