Training Journalists: Infectious Diseases



The WFSJ is overseeing the implementation of a project on Improving Science-based Communication and Local Journalism in Emergency and Post Infectious diseases Outbreak Periods, which will help build the capacity of local African media to undertake high quality health and science journalism.

This September the WFSJ conducted a five day Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop in Abidjan, Ivory Coast (12-16 September 2015) where nine science and health journalists from across Africa received training from two European Science Journalists: Igor Strauss (Radio France International) and Kai Kupferschmidt (Süddeutsche Zeitung). All participating journalists in the ToT were either experts in science and health related issues or have closely covered the recent Ebola crisis in Western Africa. Their expertise as well as their knowledge of the region was used to develop a course curriculum on infectious diseases.

The initial ToT was followed by a training workshop in November in Freetown, Sierra Leone in collaboration with Radio Mount Aureol Cotton Tree News/University of Sierra Leone. Sixteen non-specialist journalists from all districts of Sierra Leone received training on various science & health topics such as EVD, infectious diseases, drugs & vaccines, as well as discuss facts checking, sources, rumors and communication challenges during an outbreak.

A second workshop will be organized in Monrovia, Liberia in December and a third in Conakry, Guinea in February 2016. In each country, fifteen to twenty local journalists will be trained over a five day period. The aim of the workshops is to provide the participating journalist with a health and science reporting toolbox tailored to reporting in outbreak situations.

Two research associate students from universities in Canada and Ivory Coast will be present in every country to implement the applied research component. The research questions explore barriers and best conditions needed to enhance information uptake in health and science communication in the region. The project’s research associates collects data from the consenting journalists attending the ToT & the workshops.

The overall goal of this training program is to help local journalists better understand the nature, context and response actions in public health emergencies, disease outbreaks and potential pandemics.


Improving science-based journalism in emergency and post-outbreak periods. The goal of this communications and training program for local, non-specialized African journalists is to strengthen mass media campaigns and counteract the misinformation on Ebola (EVD) and other infectious diseases transmission and control.

Phase 1

Workshops in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The workshops will offer local journalists a health and science reporting toolbox tailored to reporting in outbreak situations.

Phase 2

  1. Regional workshops in Eastern and Central Africa seeking to raise journalists’ awareness about health issues and infectious diseases.
  2. Virtual Health Media Centre. A transborder website and data portal for experience sharing among journalists. Its goal is to aid effective communication of infectious diseases and other priority health issues in Africa. The website will act as a clearing house and link journalists to scientists, host credible and accessible science information, data, contacts and provide some key tools to collect, analyse and visualise data.


Anouk Beauvais
Project Manager

Phone    +1 514 508 2777


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