Epidemiology Training held by the Health ministry to better health reports

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A two-day workshop was held by the Ministry of Health for persons in the Public Relations and Health Promotion Unit to discourse the blatant inadequacies noted in health reporting. The training was held in the boardroom of the National Blood Transfusion Service at Lamaha and East Streets, Georgetown. Mr. Terrence Esseboom, head of the unit noted that the workshop’s initial intention was to target local journalists but they only had the ability to focus on the key staffers. He has hopes that the change which began at the Ministry will be filtered to the media as well. “What I really wanted was for our journalists to have an appreciation for this…this was how this was conceived. We recognised a lot of time when you pick up the newspaper, there are so many flaws in the report and it is very superficial reporting.” He added that “What happens a lot of times in health is stenography and not journalism because people don’t know…they don’t know the questions; they don’t have the grounding, so they don’t have the understanding of the basic philosophy of epidemiology. If you are going to interview somebody, you need to know the kinds of questions to ask, so you need to have background knowledge of the issue.”
Mr. Terrence Esseboom noted that the lack of proper grounding, reports on issues concerning epidemiology could end tragically when he spoke at the training workshop. “for one, we are unfamiliar with a number of things in the health sector and we have to report on these and if we don’t have grounding in these issues that could be a little disastrous.”
“Not because we are the PR Department, we are not going to ask the Minister or other officials the hard questions and demand the answers. It is conceived that the department will be able to do a better job so that if we all can’t reach the source of information; at least we can do that in the department,” Esseboom said.
An epidemiologist within the Surveillance Department, by the name of Sasha Waldron, was responsible for the technical aspect of the training concerning epidemiology reporting. She stressed the need for verification of information and stated that persons can seek help from key officials in the Ministry of Health as well as health officials. She stated, “This is important so that they can get the information to help them better understand what they are reporting on and by extension, ensure that the public has accurate reports.” “Different diseases are going to carry a different level of effort, but I really think once they have the understanding, they are going to understand the type of questions they need to ask and understand that data is never stagnant; it is always going to keep changing, especially if you have an outbreak scenario,” Waldron added.

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Health · Ministry of Public Health

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