Amref International University to launch Health Journalism Course
Amref International University is set to train short-courses for health journalists – facilitating them to generate factual and non-sensational reports.
The training institution, in partnership with Health Systems Advocacy Partnership (HSAP) project, has already developed a training curriculum – Model Curricula for Journalism Education: A Certificate in Health Reporting.
The objective for this course is two-fold: to acquaint health reporters with all aspects of the health beat and train them to generate compelling narratives; and to interpret health in political, socio-economic and medical contexts in ways that serve the public interest.
“It is hoped that the course will give impetus to the realisation of universal health coverage in Africa,” said Dr Joachim Osur, the Director Regional Programmes and Field Offices at Amref Health Africa.
“The role of media in enhancing development cannot be disputed. On matters of health, the media is vital in informing the populace and increasing their capacity to take charge of their health.”
The course covers: introductions to health journalism; understanding the health sector; understanding medical studies; data reporting; covering disease outbreaks; reporting sexual and reproductive health and rights and covering hospitals.
Others include understanding pharmaceutical industry; health in all policies; reporting medical and legal issues; pitching your story and media and advocacy.
Media advocacy for health ensures that the right policies are enacted and also implemented to achieve a country’s health goals.
“For this to be realised, media practitioners must have the right skills to effectively contribute to improving the health of populations,” Dr Osur noted.
The first-ever course in sub-Saharan Africa, also provides journalists with a set of skills and competencies to research and analyse health-related materials for reliability, thereby improving the accuracy in reporting.
This unique course comes as a critical time for journalists in Kenya and other countries in East and Southern Africa when there is a challenging relationship between scientists and the fourth estate – partly because of mistrust occasioned by misreporting.
Dr Osur noted that while there is clamour to ‘overhaul’ the present journalism education system that has failed to produce ‘quality health journalists’, this course is a ‘solid step’ towards this direction.
“The certificate course which is set to commerce later this year was created as a collaborative effort between health experts and media practitioners,” he said.
The programme which will be administered in two weeks (60 hours), will go a long way in exposing professional journalists to a robust and immersive learning experience.
It also makes it possible for them (learners) to venture into small business endeavours, like blogging services to clients.
The course was created at the request of Africa Media Network on Health (AMNH), who saw an educational training gap in today’s health journalism.
The AMNH – a brainchild of HSAP – is a team of highly acclaimed journalists and editors from Kenya, Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania and Uganda reporting on health systems strengthening at their respective countries and at the regional levels.
The delivery of the course will be both face-to-face classes as well as online (eLearning).