She is among the 31 journalists who have completed their first training on communicable disease reporting, with a special focus on COVID-19 pandemic. Marie Louise Mukanyandwi runs her own online newspaper Ingenzinyayo.com. She is happy to have attended the training for it helped her to overcome the challenges she had been facing in reporting on the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The training was an opportunity to learn how to gather interviews and other relevant data from the population in emergency times like this without exposing myself or my interviewees to the virus.” Said Mukanyandwi who added that she now feels confident and capable to report on COVID-19 and other communicable diseases that may break out in the future.
The training was organised with the support of the UNDP Rwanda, coordinated by Rwanda Media High Council (MHC) and facilitated by World Health Organisation (WHO) and Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), a national centre specialized in communicable diseases and other health issues.
All participants are local journalists who were selected from various media outlets, to include radio, TV, print and online.
The course mixed theories and practices. The theoretical training was run online and lasted for two days. The RBC in close collaboration with WHO provided facilitators who delivered the training via video conference.
The practical phase of the training started on 5th and run until 11th June 2020, during which a team of 31 journalists made field visits across four districts: Musanze, Karongi, Muhanga and Bugesera districts gathering content for stories as a way of applying theories learned.
According to Julien Mahoro Niyingabira, Director of Media Relations Unit at RBC/Ministry of Health, the training was appropriate and timely since media plays a crucial role in creating awareness and educating the population during emergency times.
“Media is a key tool in as far as risk communication and community engagement are concerned. Therefore, in situation of pandemic like the COVID-19, journalists have to be provided with a holistic understanding in order for them to inform and educate their respective audiences,” said Mahoro.”
The 31 participants will constitute a first network of journalists specialized in reporting on communicable diseases. This network is part of the national response to COVID-19.