Journalists in Africa Need Better Access to Credible Information During Disease Outbreaks

Montreal, September 14, 2017 – Journalists based in Africa suffered from a lack of credible information
during the West African Ebola viral epidemic in 2014, states a report published today by the World Federation of Science Journalists (WFSJ) in partnership with the Department of Journalism at Concordia University.

“The report concludes that if better communication and access to credible information were in place, many deaths may have been avoided,” says Damien Chalaud, Executive Director of the WFSJ.

The research set out to better understand the barriers and success factors experienced by journalists covering disease outbreak situations.* It was conducted from late 2015 to early 2017 in several Ebola crisis affected African countries and included a qualitative survey (57 participants), qualitative interviews (33 participants) and an online survey (133 participants). The complete report is available online.

The online survey results showed that 93% of journalists surveyed agreed that the credible use of
information during outbreaks such as Ebola needs to be improved. “Journalists were very clear in expressing challenges with a lack of collaboration from government, difficulty accessing health experts,
and finding timely, accurate and centralized information,” says David Secko, Chair of the Department of Journalism at Concordia University and leader of the Concordia Science Journalism Project.

Doctors carrying an Ebola Victim

In response to these challenges, the WFSJ organized 6 infectious disease training workshops in sub-Saharan countries in 2015 and 2016. Over 600 applications were received, and more than 100 health journalists participated coming from 21 countries. Training covered the science related to infectious disease outbreaks, such as differentiating a good information source from a bad source, a vaccine from a drug, etc.

During the training, journalists repeatedly mentioned the need to connect with independent, local health experts to validate facts behind disease outbreaks. Because building trust between journalists and experts increases successful collaboration, the WFSJ built
the Health Toolbox, an interactive platform on infectious diseases, allowing journalists and local experts to connect easily.

“After login, journalists search the directory and email experts directly through the platform. It’s safe, quick and easy,” says Damien Chalaud.

The Health Toolbox has other important features such as a Resource Centre containing key information on infectious diseases such as Ebola, yellow fever, malaria, dengue, measles, ZIKA, HIV-AIDS,
tuberculosis, MERS, avian influenza, influenza pandemics, and Hepatitis B and C. SciJo, an interactive online game, allows players to test their health journalism skills and review basic knowledge of concepts related to disease outbreaks.

The report points to important lessons to be learnt and the future work that needs to be done. “More capacity building is needed to improve disease epidemic reporting, as well as real-time collaboration between journalists and experts for facts validation,” says Chalaud, “but we’re on it”.
This project was funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Ottawa.



Thursday, July 16, 2015 (All day)


Reproductive Health Seminar

Speakers: Dr Daniel Murokora (Uganda Women’s Health Initiative) and Dr Eleanor Nakintu (Uganda Martyrs University & Nsambya Hospital), Rosanne Anholt, master student in public health at VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands & Esther Nakkazi, founder & director of the Health Journalist Network in Uganda (HEJNU)
 Presentation on reproductive health issues in Uganda
 Presentation on the study and preliminary results of one month collection of articles from New Vision, Daily Monitor, The Observer and Red Pepper
 Presentation of preliminary results of interviews with journalists from various broadcast & print media
 Exercise: looking critically at what you write
 Group discussion on the way forward: What can the media do to promote better reproductive health outcomes for women?
PLEASE NOTE that transport is not refunded. Refreshments will be served.
July 22, 2015 14:00-17:00 PM Plot 156-158 Mutesa II Road, Ntinda Kampala
Plot 156-158 Mutesa II Road, Ntinda, Kampala 0704292188 | |

Secondly Monthly Science Café


Wednesday, March 4, 2015 – 13:30

The Health Journalists Network in Uganda (HEJNU) in partnership with the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC) will hold its second Science Café today, Wednesday 4th February 2015 starting at 2-5 pm in Ntinda, Muteesa II Road.
This second science café, will focus on ARV-based prevention in the wake of the CROI results. A lot of discussion will focus on the Partners Demo results that were released recently and what they mean for Uganda.
The speakers will be Dr. Nulu Bulya, talking about the Partners’ PrEP Demo Study; Charles Brown talking about PrEP with a civil society perspective. He has spent the last year doing advocacy towards development of PrEP guidelines for Uganda and Dr. Clemensia Nakabiito, from Makerere University Johns Hopkins University Collaboration (MUJHU) a Microbicides expert/scientist. Also present will be Margaret Happy, from ICW-EA Uganda, a Civil society rep with expertise in biomedical HIV prevention.
HEJNU, is an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness about health care issues and improving health literacy among Africans.
Science Café’s present a platform for unique public engagement on issues that may be rather isolated from the general public including journalists. The Café will be held in an informal setting over drinks, tea and snacks that allows for a very casual interaction.
Discussions will be fluid and interactive through how the speaker engages with the audience in a casual manner. This may be one of the few opportunities that many you may get to interact with some of the guest speakers on such an informal yet personal level as well as generate story ideas and engage in thought provoking debate.
The HEJNU offices are located in Ntinda, Muteesa II Road, near stretcher road. It is the first office on the right and has the CIPESA sign post. Please confirm your presence with Wilfred on 0704292188

International One Health Confeence


Sunday, February 10, 2013 – 22:45


“DISEASE ERADICATION: What will it take?”

On 9 November 2012, the World Medical Association and World Veterinary Association signed a collaborative One HealthMemorandum of Understanding in Bangkok, Thailand.

In light of the above, the Uganda Medical Association (UMA), the Uganda Veterinary Association (UVA) and their international and local partners will hold a One Health conference in Kampala 14-16 February 2013 at Hotel Africana. This is the first joint One Health meeting being organised by the two professional bodies.

The President of the Republic of Uganda, Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, will be the Guest of Honour at the opening ceremony of this conference. The conference draws key speakers and delegates from various countries and has been supported by the Government of Uganda, international and local partners including UN Organisations.

The theme of the conference is, “DISEASE ERADICATION: What will it take?

The sub-themes are:

  • Disease Surveillance and Diagnostics
  • Response to Disease Threats
  • Prevention and control
  • Communication and Policy
  • The Environment and Disease
  • Social and Economic Dimensions

Today, the population of the World stands at more than 7 billion people. Awareness, knowledge, understanding and respect of the interdependency of the health of humans, animals, and the environment is critical. The One Health concept as a worldwide strategy seeks to expand interdisciplinary collaborations, establish effective communication and identify opportunities to work together in the areas of medical education, clinical care, public health and biomedical research among human, animal, and ecosystem health professionals.

The interactions between humans, animals and the environment present enormous health concerns. Presently, about 75% of emerging and re-emerging diseases are either zoonotic (affect both humans and animals) or vector-borne (carried from infected animals to others through biting insects). The roles of human health, animal health, and ecosystem health professionals are significant in addressing healthcare issues worldwide. Vigilant protection of human food and animal feed from food-borne diseases, the safeguarding of the environment from contamination, and guarding against acts of bio-terrorism has become critical for human, animal and environmental survival.

The Joint Conference presents opportunities for researchers, policy makers, legislators, service providers and public health specialists to share experiences and identify strategies for strengthening collaboration for the effective eradication of disease and enhance economic gains and better livelihoods of disease-free communities. Health is strength, health is wealth, and health is wisdom.


The objectives of the conference are:

  1. To provide better understanding of the One Health concept and its implications on human and animal disease reduction and eradication.
  2. To demonstrate the significance of the One Health concept in human and animal disease eradication (prediction, identification, response, control, communication)
  3. To showcase successful One Health initiatives and interventions carried out in Uganda and other countries, e.g. control of Ebola, Marburg, Rabies, etc.
  4.  To create an opportunity for medical, veterinary, ecosystem health, public health professionals, policy makers, legislators, service providers and social workers to share ideas, learn and design interventions for the application of One Health in disease eradication.
  5. To demonstrate interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral collaborations for disease control and eradication by applying principles of the One Health concept.
  6. To establish a platform for implementation of One Health Activities by signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Uganda Medical Association and Uganda Veterinary Association as already done at world level.

Conference organising partners:

The Government of Uganda (through Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries), WHO, UNICEF, USAID, AFENET, Makerere University, OHCEA, University of Minnesota, Conservation & Ecosystem Health Alliance (CEHA),  FAO, Media houses/ companies and Private partners in Medical and Veterinary related business.


For further information and for submission of abstracts please contact the Conference Secretariat:

3rd Annual Health Journalism Conference


Thursday, February 14, 2013 – 01:30


Promoting “Preventive Health”
Health Journalism Network Uganda (HEJNU) is happy to welcome journalists across Uganda to the 3rd Health Journalism Conference. The conference which attracted journalists with keen interest in health reporting was held under the theme, promoting preventive health.
Over 80 Journalists from different media houses throughout the country convened at the Kampala Imperial Royale Hotel for four days (12-15 February) to deliberate with scientists, researchers and policy makers on how preventive care can be prevented.
The conference was opened by State Minister of Health in Charge of General Duties, Ms Sarah Kataike on Wednesday February 13, 2013. Hon Kataike thanked the Ugandan media for rising up giving special consideration to health and development issues. She said government will be happy to partner with the media to take on prevention health as an agenda Kataike said that government is committed to prevention of diseases rather than investing in curing them which she noted was too expensive. In the same regard, she revealed that government will put a
lot of efforts in primary care with the immunization against pneumonia set to kick-off in April this year.
The minister also noted that research studies into cervical cancer immunization are under way and the exercise will be carried out countrywide effective 2015. The key note address was delivered by the president of the world medical association Dr Margret Mungherera who like the minister emphasized the importance of prevention rather than cure. From an informed point of view as a medical practitioner, Dr Mungherera noted that over 75% of the diseases among the people are preventable and called on journalists to take on the information spreading duty head-on.
She however noted that little funding is a big problem to some key government ministries like the Ministry of education and sports and the Ministry of water and environment that would otherwise champion the prevention of many diseases that are as a result of using unclean
Other speakers who graced the conference included Dr Chris Baryomunsi who discussed the role of Ugandan parliament in advocating for prevention in healthcare, Dr. Sam Okuonzi, also a member of Parliament, Dr Anthony Mbonye a commissioner for community health services in the ministry of health,  Prof. Vinand Nantulya, the chairman board Uganda AIDS commission, Richard Husunira from HEPS-Uganda, the commissioner for non-communicable diseases in the
ministry of health Dr Gerald Mutungi, Dr. Simon Peter Eyoku from the renal unit at Mulago hospital, Dr. Okuku Fred form the Uganda cancer institute among others.