A consultative workshop with media experts, media regulators and healthcare professionals was organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), APPNA Institute of Public Health-Jinnah Sindh Medical University (JSMU) and Khyber Medical University (KMU) on June 14 in Karachi. Organized as part of ICRC’s Health Care in Danger (HCiD) initiative, the objective of the workshop is to develop training for journalists to promote ethical and responsible reporting on issues related to healthcare in Pakistan. The workshop was attended by 34 participants from a diverse range of sectors including healthcare, news media, academia, and media regulatory bodies.

Speaking on the occasion, Prof Dr Lubna Baig, Chairperson, AIPH-JSMU, said, “Various research studies have identified that irresponsible media reporting hinders the provision of emergency healthcare services. There is a need to improve the standards of media reporting on health issues to counter misperceptions, promote factual reporting, and stop the gradual erosion of trust between healthcare providers and the public.”

The experts in the workshop deliberated in depth upon the problems pertaining to reporting on health matters in Pakistani media and provided their feedback to strengthen the content of the training. The participants also stressed the need to follow up this exercise with hands-on training for journalists on ethical standards of reporting on healthcare.

Dr Qaisar Sajjad, the Secretary General of Pakistan Medical Association, said at the occasion, “Healthcare workers are working in challenging circumstances, especially in emergency departments, to provide life-saving services. They need the support of media personnel to promote attitudes and behaviors among the general public that facilitate the provision of healthcare services”.

The representatives of media at the workshop voiced the needs of journalists and reporters specific to reporting on health care. Waqar Bhatti, investigative reporter for The News, said, “Journalists need capacity building and training to objectively report on issues facing the healthcare sector. Similarly, it’s important for healthcare workers to enhance their communication skills to enable a clearer flow of information between the media and healthcare professionals, especially during disasters or emergencies.”

Under the HCiD initiative, the ICRC has been working to make healthcare safer in Pakistan by promoting evidence-based initiatives in collaboration with diverse stakeholders including public health institutions, medical academia, healthcare authorities, and the Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRCS).

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Author

Arshad Yousafzai is a Karachi-based journalist covering Education and Human Rights. He can be reached on Twitter @Arshadyousafzay

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