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By Shirley Iana Journalism student at Divine Word University, Papua New Guinea

MADANG, Papua New Guinea (PINA Nius Online, 9 March 2000)---Journalists have been accused of ignoring malnutrition in Papua New Guinea although the country has one of the highest rates of malnourished children in the Asia-Pacific region.

Nutritionist Israel Mukusa urged the media to carry more reports on the problem and to provide people with information on how to prevent it.

He told journalism students at Divine Word University, Madang, that the only reports in the country’s newspapers in the last year had been about a single conference on malnutrition.

He said, "There should be more coverage. I haven’t seen anything in the newspapers, apart from when there was a conference held last year. The media should cover the causes of malnutrition and cover how it can be cured."

He said journalists should explain the causes of malnutrition and provide information on balanced diets.

His plea was echoed by Dr. Adedayo Kemiki, a pediatrician at Modilon General Hospital, Madang, who also called for more coverage by the media. I would like to see more nutrition education in the media," he said.

He said the media should describe the kinds of food to give to children and should promote breast-feeding of babies.

He was speaking during a weeklong workshop on reporting health and medical issues which is being held at Divine Word University, Madang, for students studying there for a journalism degree.



By Theresia Kumo

Journalism student at Divine Word University, Papua New Guinea

MADANG, Papua New Guinea (PINA Nius Online, 8 March 2000)---Reporters need to carry out detailed research on HIV/AIDS to avoid writing shallow and ill-informed reports, a health information specialist told journalism students.

Kal Indistange, information officer of the Papua New Guinea AIDS Council, said too often journalists failed to understand the issues and added to the problems of people living with HIV.

He said specialist reporters were needed who could become immersed in attempts to halt the spread of HIV/AIDS, as they would be able to write comprehensive and detailed reports.

He said, "One must really understand the subject matter very well to report effectively. How can one report on a subject if one does not have the background knowledge - when one does not have the heart for it?"

He told journalism students at Divine Word University, Madang, that journalists could learn to write better reports. He suggested journalists should:

Mr. Indistange said too often journalists merely sought the latest statistics for the number of people living with HIV/AIDS without providing people with useful information.

He said, "Besides being a channel of mere communication on HIV/AIDS, the media should play an advocative role. This should mean writing consistent and investigative articles on issues such as access to care in relation to the different treatments available."

He added that ethical journalists would ensure the language they used was not judgmental. He said people should not be labeled "AIDS victims" or "AIDS sufferers" but as "people living with HIV/AIDS," while the term "positive person" should be used instead of "person with AIDS."

He said it was wrong to talk about "innocent babies with HIV" as this suggested someone else was guilty. And he said the term "commercial sex workers" was more appropriate than the word "prostitutes."

Dr. Sibauk Bieb of Modilon Hospital, Madang, said journalists should highlight the link between HIV/AIDS and the increasing number of tuberculosis cases, its effects on the community and how it could be cured.

He said, "The media has a very big role to play and can highlight the effects of TB on the country as a whole. It can also highlight the fact that TB can be cured but probably the most important thing to stress is that TB becomes more of a problem with HIV/AIDS."

Dr. Hannely Taitarae said journalists needed to simplify medical jargon and take on a role as health educators.



By Aiva Tamate

Journalism student at Divine Word University, Papua New Guinea

MADANG, Papua New Guinea (March 7, 2000 - PINA Nius Online)---Good health reporters must always find ways of explaining complex medical issues in simple terms, medical reporter Ennio Kuble told a workshop for journalism students.

He said reporters should ask doctors to explain the medical procedures they carry out as well as the words and jargon they use to describe them.

"Our writing should be geared towards the ordinary people," he told journalism degree students at Divine Word University, in Madang, Papua New Guinea.

Mr. Kuble, medical reporter for The National newspaper, said reporters must also understand the structure of health management and delivery systems in their country to be able to report accurately.

And he stressed that it was important that people were made to feel responsible for their own health.

He said, "We should be promoting good health. We need to give different messages to different people. For some it is quit smoking, for others it is drink less beer or eat good food."

Mr. Kuble said that establishing good working relationships with health workers was important as it enabled trust to be built up and ensured accurate information was provided.

But he warned that health journalists had to take care not to give people false hopes or a false sense of security.

And they should not scare people or lie to them, nor create false alarms.

Special care had to be taken when reporting on people claiming to have discovered cures to diseases or wonder medicines.

The weeklong workshop is for students studying for a BA (Journalism) in the Communication Arts Department at Divine Word University. It is aimed at giving students the skills to report on health and medical issues.

John Levi, chief executive officer for Modilon Hospital, Madang, said journalists needed to improve their skills and explain to people why TB, HIV/AIDS and other diseases were increasing.

He said, "There needs to be a lot of improvement in the media. A lot of information needs to be got out to the public. We need the media to help us get health information to the people.’

He said the country faced many health problems and it was vital that people were given accurate information about them.

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