VACCINE HESITANCY IN GHANA: MEDIA URGED TO PLAY LEAD ROLE IN DISPELLING MYTHS ON VACCINE UPTAKE IN GHANA

Journalists in Ghana have been reminded to play their vital role in information dissemination and advocacy in the area of health care delivery in the country, especially on vaccine hesitancy and uptake among the populace.
This is to help demystify the myths surrounding the uptake of vaccines due to certain factors, including misinformation and disinformation.
The call was made by the Director of Public Health at the Ghana Health Service, Dr. Franklin Asiedu Bekoe, at an Editor’s Forum on Vaccine Uptake and the Role of the Media in Accra.
The Editors Forum, which saw in attendance over 30 senior journalists from across the country, was to build the capacity of editors on issues concerning vaccine uptake and equip them with information on the benefits of immunization to enable effective dissemination to the population.
Dr. Franklin Asiedu Bekoe was of the view that the media play an indispensable role in the dissemination of information, making them the primal ambassadors of immunization in the country.
The President of the Ghana Journalists Association, Mr. Albert Dwomfour, noted in his remarks that it was heartwarming to see capacity building in the media, especially in the area of health care, and commended the African Media and Malaria Research Network for organizing this workshop.
He acknowledged the challenge of vaccine hesitancy, which he said calls for further efforts to address the issue.
He said the media has the potential to dispel the myth of vaccine hesitancy and was optimistic that the training gained from this workshop will help the media enhance its professional growth.
The GJA president assured the stakeholders that it was prepared to associate with anybody seeking to promote the growth of the media in Ghana.
Dr. Kwame Amponsa-Achiano, the Manager at the Expanded Programme on Immunization of the Ghana Health Service, who was one of the resource persons, said a lot has been achieved in the area of immunization in Ghana.
He said previously bothersome diseases, including Wild Polio Virus, Measles, Neonatal Tetanus and Pneumonia and Diarrhoea have now been reduced or eliminated through immunization and appealed to the media to obtain the required information and education on news concerning immunization to help dispel the myths about vaccines.
Dr. Charity Binka, the Executive Secretary of the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN), the coordinators of the programme, said in an interview with the media on the sidelines that the workshop was a result of concerns emanating from recent World Health Organization reports on vaccine uptake and hesitancy in Ghana, especially in the wake of the outbreak of COVID-19.
She said the traditional media has, over the decades, built trust among the populace, so they needed to be identified as part of the solutions to the concerns of vaccine hesitancy in the country.
Dr. Binka disclosed that this is the first phase in the series of programmes mapped out for the media in the area of vaccine uptake, and added that subsequent workshops will be held for reporters and correspondents soon.

Dr. Kwame Amponsa-Achiano also, in an interview with NET2 TV, justified the central role of the media.

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