Maseru – Lesotho journalists have been urged to report about Ebola despite the country being free of the virus at least for now.
In her presentation at yesterday’s virtual Ebola training workshop on Improving Ebola Reporting, Julia Belluz warned journalists the media should play important role in prevention of the spread of the virus.
She said reporters, including those whose countries are still free of infections, should contribute in a public discourse in dissemination of accurate information on how the virus spread.
“The media should help their governments to be prepared for the outbreak of the virus. Through the media, the governments can implement disease surveillance measures,” said Belluz.
Belluz also advised that people who have travelled through infected countries should be isolated in order to detect any possible infections.
She noted poverty might have an impact on the spread of the virus, saying a shortage of resources in health such as doctors, nurses and supply of protective gear might increase the incidence of the virus.
Martin Enserink of U.S-based Science Magazine said journalists have a duty to improve and safe people’s lives warning them to be safe, skeptical and well-informed.
“It is through Ebola that people’s health and lives are at stake. The journalists must refer to good news sources when reporting about the virus,” said Enserink. He explained there was no cure yet or specific drug for treatment of the Ebola virus infection.
Ebola has now infected around 16,000 people in Africa, most of them in West parts of the continent while 9,000 of them survived. It has killed more than 5,000.
During the training session, journalists were exposed to case studies of Ebola reporting with Jonathan Hamilton citing stories they reported on while on an assignment in West Africa.
The training was organised by the US Department of State through the Africa Media Hub in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Since the outbreak of Ebola virus, Lesotho has designed ‘The Ebola Preparedness and Response Plan’ that covers the objectives, actions and activities to be undertaken prior to, during and post the epidemic. The pre-epidemic plan objective is to put in place and sustain interventions for the prevention of EVD in Lesotho. The objective during the epidemic is to reduce deaths from EVD and minimize the spread of the disease amongst the population of Lesotho. Lastly, the post-epidemic objective is to strengthen recovery and preventative measures in order to avert future EVD epidemics.
On the 14th August 2014, the Plan was presented to the Senior Management of the Ministry of Health, comprising Minister of Health, Dr. Pinkie Manamolela, and her team with the aim to provide an update of the progress made to date and seek their endorsement to the Plan. The Plan was presented to the cabinet on Tuesday the 19th of August 2014.