Three American health specialists are training dozens of journalists from different media houses on how to effectively report data in public health.
The three-day workshop taking place in Rubavu district started on June 6 and was organised by Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC). It is expected to increase journalists’ capacity to incorporate data in their work.
These trainers are from Vital Strategies- a global health organization with a team that combines evidence-based strategies with innovation to help develop and implement sound public health policies, manage programs efficiently, strengthen data systems, and conduct research and design strategic communication campaigns or policy and behaviour change.
Gaspard Habarurema the acting director of media relations and information unit at RBC told Taarifa that they invited these trainers because they have recognised some gaps in health data reporting in media and within the institution.
“We realised that there was a gap in interpreting data from different researches because we misinterpret data. We could report wrong information through media and our different websites. That is why we sat down and tried to consult partners so that they can train us about using data accurately,” He said.
Habarurema added that when journalists get familiar with checking out sources and reporting accurate information, it will be easier for the ministry.
Lara Tabac a senior advisor at Vital Strategies said that there are gaps in reporting health issues globally.
“We feel that every country can benefit from this training and help people to ask the right questions when interviewing government or external researchers or people in the bilateral community as well.”
According to Tabac, every country can benefit from this kind of training because data journalism is a new field and the skills to include data in journalistic work are specialised skills that are regularly taught in journalism programs.
Ruxana Jina a senior technical advisor at Vital Strategies told Taarifa in an exclusive interview that the training is part of the Bloomberg Philanthropy project that is focusing on using data more in terms of making decisions, taking actions or allocating resources.
“We are focusing on it from two aspects especially in terms of making data more available to people internally within government but also externally,” Jina said.
She added that they are targeting people within the government about how they can share data more but they are also looking at how journalists can use data more when presenting information information on health.