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Workshop wants responsible reports on bird flu

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  • Workshop wants responsible reports on bird flu

    <TABLE width="100%"><TBODY><TR><TD>Monday, Jan 22, 2007

    Journalists have been advised to always report cases of avian influenza (AI) and other related issues ?responsibly without sensationalising them?.

    The advice is contained in a communique issued at the end of a sensitisation workshop on the prevention and control of the Avian Influenza.

    The workshop was organised for reporters by the Lagos State government in collaboration with UNICEF.

    ? Journalists should not report such cases without thorough investigations, so as not to create additional problems for the people,? the communique stated.

    Participants at workshop, which was attended by 40 journalists from both the print and electronic media, called for the establishment of AI desks in the various media houses to monitor reports on Avian Influenza outbreak.

    They also called on the state governments to organise seminars, as part of the programme to sensitise people on the existence of the virus, which had claimed more lives than wars throughout the world.

    Dr Mobolaji Akerele, UNICEF field officer for Zone B said the AI virus was virulent and pandemic in nature.

    ?The virus killed 50 million people between 1916 and 1917 worldwide. It killed two million between 1957 and 1958, and between 1968 and 1969, the virus killed one million people,? Akerele said The UNICEF field officer identified importation of day old chicks and birds migration from one region to another as the sources through which AI spread. He explained that the virus could be contracted through inhalation and physical contact through animal to animal, animal to human or through man to man.

    Akerele said that avian influenza virus had been detected in 14 states of Nigeria, including Lagos State, adding that it had been detected in 26 farms in eight local government areas of Lagos State.

    Dr Oluwatoyin Owolana, a veterinary surgeon, who confirmed that the AI virus was real and deadly, urged Nigerians to be wary of their environment and how they relate with their poultry products.

    ?It is a contagious disease that is associated with poultry, it can be contracted through contact with chickens, ducks, geese and even pigs,? he said. Owolana, however, advised journalists to educate the people through their reports on the dangers associated with avian influenza and measures to prevent its spread.

    "The next major advancement in the health of American people will be determined by what the individual is willing to do for himself"-- John Knowles, Former President of the Rockefeller Foundation

  • #2
    Re: Workshop wants responsible reports on bird flu endorses responsible reporting. Our mission statement: Inc. is dedicated to the public health of the world’s citizens by advancing policies, protocols, innovations, and practices that improve the health of vulnerable populations. We will enhance the health of communities by informing, educating, developing and maintaining integrated programs. We recognize and stress the importance of the relationship between human rights and health status.

    This mission requires that we adhere to the concept of humane treatment of all individuals. Publishing rumours, inunendo, and false facts is inhumane. This can lead, in a worse case scenario, to panic and despair.

    A pandemic is a serious subject. Discussing serious and fatal diseases necessitates that we promote ethical internet communications.

    What is published online can be a powerful medium of influence, even subliminally. Online publishers must become aware of their influence in today’s society. In a 2005 study by the Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society, it was reported that Americans use the internet 3 &#189; hours per day which is an increase of 4&#37; over 2004. This study also found that the majority of time spent online (38.9%) was spent communicating with friends, family and colleagues. This describes online “bird flu” communities. We are friends. We have become family. And all of us are colleagues in the quest to find a solution to the H5N1 issues.

    As online publishers we have the responsibility to our communities to be clear in our mission and guide these societies in that framework. By allowing the community to drift from the stated mission, publishers can inadvertently change the entire tone and emotional climate of the community. If the messages become anti-social then the community can develop into a dysfunctional family, and a downward spiral in mass communication is begun. As the bar is lowered by each new anti-social dialogue, the standard of acceptable online behavior becomes lower also. The members of the community may gradually come to accept some of these new behaviors and dialogues as “normal”. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /><o:p></o:p>
    Constant exposure to anti-social dialogue or hate speak can and will affect even the most saintly among us. In 1946 news media executive Julius Streicher was sentenced to death for genocide for an anti-Semitic campaign of propaganda through print media in Nazi Germany during World War II. An international court in December 2003 in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:country-region><st1:place>Tanzania</st1:place></st1:country-region> convicted three Rwandan media executives of genocide for helping to incite a killing spree that killed 800,000 Rwandan Tutsis and moderate Hutus. The presiding judge of the Tanzanian court, Navanathem Pillay, said in her closing remarks:<o:p></o:p>
    “Without a firearm, machete or any physical weapon, you caused the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians.''