UNICEF and The George Institute for Global Health partner up to improve immunization coverage in India

In an effort to address the challenges of public health reporting, The George Institute for Global Health in collaboration with UNICEF, Oxford University and Reuters is working on a critical appraisal skills programme for journalists. The programme will train journalists to report on health issues in a fair, complete and balanced way. Challenges to routine immunisation will be taken up as a case study and the media will learn how to report extensively on the issue without creating a scare,   

Whilst media coverage of vaccinations has a wide reach in India, the challenges of being the second most populated country with a diverse range of socio-cultural conditions, positions it among the top four that account for 50% of global under-five mortality.

The largest numbers of unvaccinated children in the world are from India, with 50% of mothers not knowing about the vaccine or the appropriate age to vaccinate.

The first of a series of workshops to consult journalists on the kind of educational programmes that will equip them to report better on health issues was held in Chennai in September 2014. Over a period of six months, five more workshops have been held with 300 journalists and media academics in attendance.  The last of these workshops was held in Chandigarh in North India on February 6.

The Certificate Course on Critical Appraisal Skills which will be developed later this year based   on all inputs received at these workshops aims to better equip journalists with the skills needed to cover medical reporting accurately.

The course offers a unique opportunity for journalists and media to provide much needed information to the public on the importance of vaccinations and how to access them.

The program focuses on evidence based critical appraisal essentially involves four steps:

•              Asking the right questions around the issue

•              Tracking down the best evidence

•              Critically appraise the evidence

•              Contextualise based on current concerns

 The workshops received national media attention and was covered by a range of Indian media including…..