Against the background of misinformation and ignorance about Covid-19, International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH) in collaboration with its technical partner CHESTRAD Global, a hub of health professionals is set to further sharpen the skills of journalists in the reportage of the pandemic and also provide accurate information that would help reduce the spread of the virus.
Nigeria has a large population in which a portion through the social media spread and consumes false information about the pandemic to unsuspecting members of the public. To curb this, ISMPH will establish a trusted Information validation Web to further prevent the spread of misinformation about the pandemic. The web will serve as a valve where users can have access to resource materials as well as verify the validity or other wise of any information. With this, there will be fact finding handles and seamless flow of communication between users and health professionals. Besides, ISMP will produce video series for knowledge dissemination through which journalists and the public can easily access reliable and verifiable information resources In addition, InfoMedia Cell Network is to be formed through WhatsApp to be a communication hub between technical health experts and health journalists.
This will serve as a conduit for health experts to share findings that will be translated to reports, for journalists to ask for expert advice for their reports as well as strengthen the relationship between health experts and reporters. It will also include local journalists whose audience is the marginalized population. To further ensure that Journalists report from the point of knowledge, activities such as periodic Webinars will be held .starting from the 13th of August. The lead speakers are: National Coordinator of Presidential Task Force on Covid-19, Dr Sani Aliyu and President of CHESTRAD Global Dr. Lola Dare , while the Executive Director of ISMPH Moji Makanjuola will moderate the session. Through this platform, journalists especially those whose audience are the marginalized population can engage health experts, Media Executives, the Presidential Task Force and health researchers on pressing issues.
Misinformation and disinformation are common traits have accompanied covid-19 pandemic even as the populace are desperate for answers to some unclear issues about the disease. It would be recalled that ISMPH during engagement with journalists via webinars discovered that due to the pandemic, most journalists have limitations in sourcing out scientific proven information from experts which makes them often settle for National Centre for Disease Control and Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 press releases as source materials.
Besides, health reporters are ill equipped to report on pandemic issues, because they have not been trained and this further affects the construction and comprehension of the reports. ISMPH consists of a hub of health journalists with the aim to mainstream the media as a potent tool to accelerate health care information and delivery in Nigeria.