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Journalists Trained on Emergency Risk Communication

By Mohamed Konneh

With support from GIZ the Sierra Leone Public Health Emergency Operation Center (EOC) have concluded training for media practitioners on emergency risk communication during crisis and disease outbreaks from across the country. The training was done in the city of Bo bringing media practitioners from across the country together.

The training also targeted civil society groups and one health communication officers making the training mostly interactive.

Giving the objective was for participants to understand what emergency risk communication is and its importance in a public health emergency.

One of the participants, Mohamed Konneh of Standard Times Newspaper making a case

It was also to identify appropriate communication channels based on audience needs, discuss ways to engage partners and stakeholders for effective emergency.

Making his presentation on the importance of emergency Risk communication, the GIZ representative said emergency risk communication is important because it can influence risk perception and types of reactions people have when faced with public health threats.

He said different audiences respond differently based on the way they get information and emergency risk communication can be delivered to motivate people to take actions that will protect their health.

The GIZ Representative also led discussion on the 7 Cs including command attention, clarify the message, communicate a benefit,, consistency counts, and cater for the heart and head.

Mr. Mohamed Conteh from the Ministry of Agriculture forestry and food security who also doubles as member of the One Health Network team presented the six principles on emergency risk communication.

On the aspect of know your audience he said language is key noting that some culture speaks multiple language and the need to use interpreters to mitigate communication barriers.

On the aspect of perception of risk, Mr. Conteh noted that different cultures have different experiences with risk and have often developed specific methods of risk management.

He said emergency risk communication should be sensitive to these cultural differences.

Madam Fatmata Sesay from the EPASL/One Health Platform making a presentation to journalists in Kenema

“There is also the aspect of belief about institutions and that cultural and ethnic groups develop and identify with their institutions.

In his presentation the communication lead at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Mr. Harald Thomas spoke about cases recorded so far and people in quarantine.

He also spoke on stakeholders and partners noting that stakeholders are people directly affected by the crisis and their family members, medical community and all who care for the sick and injured, people whose livelihoods are affected by the crisis.

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