Murree - A training workshop to develop skills of journalists on “Rights-Based Health Reporting”  by the Centre for Communication Programmes Pakistan (CCPP) concluded here on Thursday.

The event was held under Empowerment, Voice and Accountability for Better Health and Nutrition (EVA-BHN) Project from April 13-16.

About 22 journalists from print and electronic media across Pakistan attended the training. The workshop was an effort to address the growing media needs for improving the quality of reporting on health and nutrition issues of the mothers, newborns and children of Pakistan.

A team of facilitators led by Peter Roberts from Johns Hopkins University, Atif Ikram and Ihatsham Akram from the CCPP conducted the training. The participants were familiarised with the key models and theories around rights-based approach and communication followed by hands on experience of developing human interest stories. They also developed stories in groups that were critically analysed afterwards for helping participants to identify gaps and know how to address the gaps.

The participants were also shared with findings of research that was conducted for formulating the trainings content. Organisation policies, workload, under-resourced and lack of proper employment status and absence of any training opportunities were the key barriers identified by the participants for delivering their roles.

While sharing their thoughts the participants were agreed that the initiative of engaging journalists will contribute towards improving services of reproductive, mother and child health (RMNCH) and nutrition services.

One of the participants said, “Journalists being lynchpin of civil society can play a leading and an affective role in lifting up status of mother and child health through highlighting gaps in service delivery and disseminating knowledge on this very serious issue.”

Senior TV anchor Nasim Zehra and Haroon Rashid from BBC were also present during the last session and gave their expert opinion on the issues of health reporting in the country and appreciated the initiative.

They opined that such trainings serve to address the gaps of capacity building for journalists especially given the fact that Pakistani journalism landscape did not exhibit any formal mechanisms of capacity building. “Such trainings are handy as they build the capacity of journalists and that improves the quality of reporting in general and on issues such as health in particular,” they added.

There was an overarching consensus that there is a need of increasing the amount of quality coverage of RMCNH and nutrition issues, putting these issues in the broader context of needing improved health services and policy implementation. The workshop provided a suitable frame for reporters and journalist to exchange experiences and discuss various approaches for increasing the health news coverage.

The four-day workshop also aimed at improving reporting on health-related issues in print and broadcast media in Pakistan and institutionalization of capacity strengthening initiatives carried out for journalists’ communities in Pakistan.