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Monday,September 28,2020 02:00 AM

Journalists, researchers to connect online

By Vision Reporter

Added 27th November 2017 02:49 PM

Communication officers stand to benefit from this web based tool as they will be key in helping journalists to source accurate and timely information from health experts from their research institutes.

Journalists, researchers to connect online

Communication officers stand to benefit from this web based tool as they will be key in helping journalists to source accurate and timely information from health experts from their research institutes.


A health toolbox to connect African journalists to researchers, including the wider science journalism community, fast and on demand, is now available at https://healthtoolbox.wfsj.org/.

Partners in the project have embarked on developing a database of health journalists, experts and communication officers working in health research institutions who will act as the link to the institutes.

Communication officers stand to benefit from this web based tool as they will be key in helping journalists to source accurate and timely information from health experts from their research institutes.

The tool could not have come at a better time especially given that at times local journalists may be unaware of key research results publications  of public interest or they may altogether not know of research being carried out - a gap that this tool, with partnership from the communication officers, will fill.

This digital solution provides support to communication officers and researchers to connect to credible local journalists, and vice versa as well as support journalists to accurately and, in a timely manner, highlight research centres, scientific knowledge and expertise.

 Besides, it helps to monitor emerging projects and issues in the targeted regions.

Health toolbox is a simple and easily accessible digital environment which will increase the accessibility and uptake of data and knowledge from health related scientific research, and link up local journalists to the wider science health research community.

It is available in English and in French. It is responsive for Android and IOS smart phones, tablets (2G, 3G, 4G) and websites. Its contents is also accessible offline. It will enable those journalists to easily access and report using credible science information and data and visualization tools.

A resource centre which covers basic data on infectious diseases, including 11 factsheets covering basic facts on Infectious Diseases (ID) such as Ebola, Hepatitis C, malaria and pandemic influenza is available. Others include yellow fever, Avian flu, MERS SRAS and tuberculosis. Besides, information on AIDS, ZIKA, Measles and Dengue are presented.

The team is also considering inclusion of global health modules on dementia, vaccines and AMR. Each factsheet contains basic ID information that every journalist needs to know, including causes, symptoms, mortality, transmission routes, epidemiology, drugs, vaccines, etc.
 
The available information is easily understandable for people without any scientific or medical background, explaining difficult concepts and avoiding jargon as much as possible.

Each sheet follows the same structure: What is the ID? What are the symptoms? How does it spread? How is it treated? How can it be prevented? What's the long-term outlook? The fact sheets also provide links to reliable resources among others.

Partners in the project include the Canadian International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Johnson & Johnson, Concordia University, On Our Radar, CREO and MESHA.

"To us at MESHA, the introduction of the health toolbox has been a revelation as to what technology can do to ease the burden on journalists accessing experts. A lot of our members use the toolbox with very rewarding results," said Violet Otindo, the chairperson of the association in Nairobi.

African journalists for sure will find the use of this tool as one which aims to improve the depth and quality of health reporting across the continent.



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