RTI International and the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI) held a 3-day NTD Media and Advocacy Workshop, May 26-28 for the Ministry of Health (MISAU), development organizations working with neglected tropical diseases (NTD) and journalists who report on health issues in Mozambique. The workshop was divided into 2 parts; the first two days were for MISAU and organizations working in NTDs. The last day was for journalists and MISAU. Tomás Mario, Director of Sekelekani (Communication for Development) and a well-known journalist in Mozambique, led a good part of journalists training, helping us to understand their needs better and giving them a platform to learn more about NTDs in Mozambique. The main objectives of the training were to:
- Create messages to help support reporting on NTDs;
- Identify the target population for these messages;
- Share experiences of past experiences with the media;
- Practice speaking to the media about NTDs;
- Enhance health program managers skills in communicating with the public through the media, especially by mastering interview skills;
- Help journalists understand what NTDs are and how they affect the population.
The most common NTDs present in Mozambique such as lymphatic Filariasis, schistosomiasis, helminths, trachoma, leprosy and rabies were discussed, highlighting their symptoms, medical terms and most used terms as well as what MISAU and partners are doing to try to control and eliminate these diseases.
The workshop was two-fold. It provided a safe setting for MISAU to speak about their past experiences with the media, how to improve the way they communicate with the media, the importance of accuracy of relaying information, and using language accessible to all. It gave journalists more information and clarity on NTDs which they felt was lacking. It enhanced their knowledge and gave them space to ask questions, receive information and importantly build their relationships with MISAU.
Participants were given the opportunity to practice speaking in front of the camera. This was especially fun and emphasized the importance of relaying clear, concise information that can be understood by everyone. The participants better understood how important their role is in interacting with the media and the journalists also appreciated that they too have an essential role in informing and educating the public. The better equipped they are with accurate information, the better their reporting.
Many of the participants, both MISAU and journalists would like to see this training replicated in the future, engaging more government officials and with more information on NTDs that are affecting so many of their population.
Special thanks to ITI, IREX, Sekekelani and all the participants for their valuable and lively input.