Stop AIDS in Liberia, Partners Train Journalists to Report on Health and Human Issues

By: Christophina Pinky NyannehLHRJN

SINKOR- Stop AIDS in Liberia (SAIL) in partnership with the Liberia Health and Rights Journalists Network (LHRJN) with support from the Civil Society Institute for HIV & Health (WCA) has ended a daylong media engagement in Monrovia.

The media engagement which was held under the theme, “National training with media institutions and stakeholders,” is part of efforts for the media to effectively and adequately report on basic health and human rights issues in the country.

It also focuses on the production of content and treatments of information on HIV and human rights to sensitize journalists to a dispassionate perception and for more ethical and professional media coverage of populations most vulnerable to HIV. The training was attended by Radio, television, online, and newspapers journalists.

The training was attended by key stakeholders in the country’s national HIV response including the National AIDS Commission, National AIDS Control Program, Liberia Network of Persons Living with HIV (LibNeP+), and other key population groups in the country.

LHRJN Boss, Necus Andrews

Presenting on behalf of Liberia Health and Rights Journalists Network (LHRJN), Necus Andrews intoned that the media is a powerful tool in the formation of opinion in any society.

He said, “The power of the media is also manifested when reporting on HIV, key populations, and human rights issues. The media can contribute to educating those who are HIV-negative to take care of their health and those who are positive to live better with this condition and to get the best out of life. This depends on how journalists, address the task of reporting on persons living with HIV and those directly exposed to the virus.”

Andrews wants Journalists to make use of the Press Union of Liberia Code of conduct which seeks to balance the right of the public to information and the right of privacy of the individual protection. According to him, key populations are being stigmatized and discriminated and Journalists have a critical role in correcting this situation by reporting on matters relating to the health and human rights of these people.

Like Necus Andrews, Batie Nah wants stigma and discrimination against People living with HIV addressed. She said it remains a global challenge.

Counting on efforts in the Integrated Bio-Behavioral Surveillance Survey Report (IBBSS 2018), Nah intoned that there have been efforts to address stigma and discrimination in Liberia, but these have been limited in scope.

“Recently, Liberia signed up to the Global Partnership for the Elimination of HIV-Related Stigma and Discrimination, all to address and respond to the issues of stigma and discrimination experienced by people living with HIV,” he said.

Dr. Jonathan Flomo, Program Manager of the National AIDS Control Program (NACP)

For his part, Dr. Jonathan Flomo, Program Manager of the National AIDS Control Program (NACP) who presented on HIV Situational Analysis in Liberia said the NACP continues to lead biomedical activities critical for epidemic control and staying up to date with global best practices to ensure quality in the delivery of HIV services.

According to him, they are coordinating GOL and donor stakeholders to promote synergy and efficiency. Dr. Flomo said some activities slowed due to an impasse on Global Fund resources. He disclosed that the program worked hard to maximize activities with GOL and other partners receiving USG funding.

However, the NACP Program Manager has revealed delays in the release of GF resources for approved activities in the approved work plan.

“No GOL allotment to the program. There have been no GFATM-funded program implementations since July 2021. The program is challenged with basic operational gaps including electricity, internet, and fuel which are significantly impacting laboratory testing for viral load and EID as well as the operation of the laboratory information system and day-to-day running of the office,” Dr. Flomo said during his presentation.

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