by Yaa Ofiriwha Asare-Peasah – Ghana News Agency
MeTA Ghana: CSO & Media Orientation workshop
16 April 2009
Health reporting is a way of putting materials together and aimed at sharing knowledge and
creating awareness on important Public Health problems and their determinants (in different
population groups) such as policy makers and others involved in organizations that can
influence the health of a population.
Aims of health reporting:
Some examples of the aims of health reporting are:
• define common public health objectives, priorities and strategies
• Focus and co-ordinate the compilation, analysis and evaluation of health information
• foster the mutual exchange of health information, expertise and experience
• create networks for information and consultation in the area of health information
• contribute to making data collection mechanisms more comparable
• improve health information systems and disease monitoring and surveillance activities
Issues covered under health reporting include the following:
• Diseases such as the three targeted under the MDGs - HIV AIDS, Malaria and TB
. Other diseases, conditions and risk conditions such as the six childhood diseases, sanitation,
malnutrition, obesity, smoking and NCDs.
• Programmes, funding and financing
• Health, workforce and capacity and
• Population and reproductive health.
Medicines for instance are for:
The people must for example be told:
- That access to essential drugs is a human right issue
- That the right to health comes with the supply of essential drug list
- That government has an obligation to supply drugs
In trying to promote above, encourage responsible business practice and increase access to
quality essential medicines to Ghanaians MeTA seeks to promote:
. Transparency in the selection
. Proper use of medicines in developing countries including Ghana.
What can we report on:
- Treatment Schedules
- Control measures
- New Medicines
- Quality Controls
- Availability, Accessibility Acceptability, Affordability
- New Research works
- New Interventions
- Comparison of local and imported medicines (Prices/Changes)
- Pricing Policies and how they affect people
- Warning on Side Effects of particular medicines
- Expired and Fake Drugs
- Advocacy on policy Change
Dos and Don’ts:
A good health reporter does the following:
• Never stop reading, surfing the Internet to understand topics for writings
. Always talk to the experts - as a speciality never get your source, policy makers and readers
• If necessary gets in touch with the people whose lives are directly affected by a research
work or epidemic or the specific topic
• Quotes from the right source, what happens at any point in time.
• Adds accurate figures if necessary to give more credibility to the story and educate society
• Follow-ups: Checks the impact of story/article to assess public reaction or response.
• Make copies of published articles/stories for reference, a future event or even as supporting
documents for an international conference or workshop.
A good health reporter avoids the following:
• Keeps off unreliable sources
• Does not misquote source
• Does not forget to identify source with right names, titles or designations
• Treats sources with respect
• Does not betray sources if they prefer anonymity/off records
• Explains technical terms/jargons but not in own words
• Explains abbreviations
• Avoids inaccuracies/spurious claims of cure for diseases or wonder drugs without the least
scientific proof or foundation.
• Gets appropriate authorities to comment on claims.
• Observes confidentialities where necessary
• Respects embargoes (e.g.)