Media landscape offers multiple influences in health sector. A well-articulated press release can hype up the research findings appropriately. Any impartial and objective media report can enhance knowledge translation towards health promotion and policy advocacy. While talking about such unique consequences of health journalism in recent journalists orientation programme, Ms. Catherine Spencer- Principal Communication Lead of icddr,b highlighted in her welcome remarks how journalism impacts health policy and spurs behavior change communication at community level. Considering this multiplier effect, European Union funded SHARE (Strengthening Health, Applying research Evidence ) project of icddr,b in collaboration with Press Institute of Bangladesh (PIB) organized an orientation training programme which offers journalists a chance to hone their skills on mainstreaming evidence-informed health reporting. Inauguration session of the orientation was chaired by Md. Shah Alamgir, Director General of PIB who appreciated icddr,b collaboration in health journalism. Dr. Shahed Hossain, Scientist of icddr,b, Md. Al Mamun, Manager, icddr,b library, Dr. Prodip Kumar Pandey, Chairman of Mass Communication & Journalism Department of Rajshahi University, and Mr. Shishir Morel, eminent Health Correspondent of Daily Prothom Alo conducted different sessions as Resource Persons. Dr. Mushtuq Hossain, Ex-Principal Scientific Officer of IEDCR and Dr. Ashek Reza, Principal Scientific Officer of IEDCR gave their remarks as Special Guests. Around 25 national reporters on print, electronic and online media attended the orientation at PIB Seminar Room on 6 December 2016.
The orientation training started with the session on ‘Evidence Based Health Policy Making’ facilitated by Dr. Iqbal Anwar, Scientist and Project Director of icddr,b. He pointed out existing gap between field level health programmes and centralized health policy making. He explained why research findings should be easily accessible for bridging the know-do gap. Best practices and health evidences also deserve wide dissemination where mass media can take prominent role. Citing published health reports, Resource Persons of the training gave the journalists a number of story ideas worth pitching ranging from universal health coverage to community engagement in health sector.
This orientation helped the participants to learn how good reporting can be possible from the ever-increasing stream of health information. Health reporters shared how they find it difficult to verify the credibility of the information source online. Considering such intricacy, learning effective search strategies to identify and access relevant knowledge resources on public health was important component of the orientation. Resource Person from icddr,b also demonstrated how to find scientific literature from PubMed which comprises more than 26 million citations for biomedical literature from life science journals, public health journals and online books.
Journalists have influential role in bridging the gap between research evidences and health policy making. It was a learning experience for researchers to learn feedback from the participants which was remarkable. ‘I found the orientation to be invigorating. It has necessarily included important lesson focusing on how to conduct balanced investigation before reporting and use health evidences in making credible health report’, a participant said. Such journalists’ orientation should continue in the coming days, as expressed by the participant journalists in their feedback session. This urge from journalists and joint initiative of health research organization and media agency can effectively push health issues to the forefront of public awareness, strengthening advocacy and policy making at desired level. At the end, this impression forms the real satisfaction of organizing recent journalists’ orientation.