Health Media Project takes health journalism training to a new level in Kenya
Journalists and the public health community in Kenya welcomed the news that Internews in Kenya had received funding to continue its health journalism training through the Health Media Project award. See Good news... Award to take health journalism training a notch higher by Dorothy Otieno.
About Health Media Project
The four-year Health Media Project (HMP) launched in January 2013. It builds on the success of Internews’ Voices in Health media training program (2003-2012) that created a network of more than 900 health journalists trained over nine years.
Our vision of HMP is that of a pivot that links all constituents of Kenya’s health information landscape in a media response to public health for the wellbeing of all Kenyans. Journalism training focuses on HIV and Aids, reproductive health, maternal and child health, and malaria.
Internews’ world-tested training includes a comprehensive suits of unique health journalism activities, spanning broadcast, print, online and digital platforms, photography, lay-out and design, data, management, investigative, multi-media, and visualization specialties. The Write Spot - Internews’ Media Resource and digital Media Centers - continues to provide a vibrant space for research, story production, networking and hands-on support.
A story a day
A recent legacy assessment by Internews in Kenya of the impact of its Voices in Health (ViH) media project (2003-2012) - A Story a Day - demonstrated the degree to which the media, policy-makers, representatives of the public health sector, civil society and communities all recognize the media as a crucial partner in promoting health.
In the May-June 2012 assessment, Internews surveyed 893 people, and found that consistently, they put health news at the top of their information needs. Eighty-seven percent ranked health news as very important, with HIV being ranked the highest.
In eight focus group discussions in Korogocho and Kisumu, more than 90% said that they wanted health information to contain “real stories about real people.” Key findings also indicate that media development can contribute to policy changes and accountability, and can mobilize communities toward better health outcomes. Kenya’s lively and dynamic media has enormous power to influence beliefs about and understanding of public health, and to coherently integrate health news in the daily news agenda.
Public health from a media perspective requires a keen understanding of the data that illustrate the disease burden spectrum, as statistical trend analysis is important in telling a very complex human story with its public health and socioeconomic consequences. Â When Internews started its work in Kenya in 2003, there was no newsroom culture to support journalists who wanted to focus on public health, and none were encouraged to specialize in health reporting. Today, numerous media houses boast a dedicated health slot - proof of the commitment of media managers and owners to respond to HIV and AIDS. For the full report, read A Story a Day...The media as preventive tool in public health: A legacy assessment of Internews’ health journalism program in Kenya and its impact on the media, the public health sector and the audience.
The Voices in Health program predates the Health Media Project. It was launched in 2003, a time when around 700 people were dying every day as a result of HIV complications. In the nine years that Internews implemented the program, hundreds of journalists were trained about HIV and Aids issues, with a focus on making the science of the disease accessible to audiences, and dispelling myths and reducing stigma. Internews in Kenya built up a substantial library of information over the nine years of implementation of the Voices in Health program. The information has been archived and can be accessed at the following links:
Voices in Health
When K24 journalist Violet Otindo heard that a condom shortage in Isiolo, Eastern Province, led to men washing and re-using condoms, she took up an Internews travel grant to go investigate. Residents confirmed the practice. Her story was picked up by local and international media houses. Importantly, government and development agencies took action and sent emergency condom supplies to the area.
"What I am doing is helping other people. A story I did on a girl who was circumcised in preparation for an arranged marriage really touched me. Recently some people called me to enquire about her wellbeing. They wanted to pay for her school fees and get her back to school. I would like to do a follow up story on her after she is back in school, and now I can!"
"I am confident enough to call myself a journalist now"
"This is media relief for Lodwar. We have drought relief, but our writing also has to be nourished."
Internews believes all communities have the right to information and freedom of expression. To support this conviction, members of the gay community in Kenya are being trained to tell their own stories: about rights violations, access to health care and life in a society which stigmatizes homosexuality. The hope is that more effective citizen storytelling would lead to more unbiased coverage in the mainstream media.
This project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development.
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