The influx of Venezuelans to Guyana’s shores has not only been a challenge to law enforcement but the health sector has also been faced with some concerns as well. In recognition of this development, the Ministry of Public Health through its Public Relations and Health Promotion Unit has been working to improve how it disseminates information.
This is particularly important when it comes to epidemiology or the outbreak of diseases.
“We have the Venezuelans coming in from Region One and there is a possibility that things can happen but we don’t want things to happen then we start scrambling,” said Head of the Public Relations and Health Promotion Unit, Mr. Terrence Esseboom.
He disclosed that the vision to improve reporting in this regard was conceptualised when the Ministry took note of the quality of reportage on health issues that are often shared with the public. “What happens a lot of times in health reporting is stenography and not journalism because some people don’t know a lot of things…they don’t know the questions to ask; they don’t have a grounding and so they don’t have an understanding of the basic philosophy of epidemiology,” Esseboom pointed out.
He noted that while the Ministry currently does not have the capacity to train all journalists to help them gain a better understanding of health issues, the tactic embraced is to train the staffers within the Public Relations and Health Promotion Unit in hopes of starting the improvement at that level. “Not because we are the PR Department that we are not going to ask the Minister or other officials the hard questions and demand the answers…this is what we intend to do so when the journalists confront us or if something happens here or out of Georgetown and we have to get the information, we will know what to ask so that the accurate information can be shared with the media,” Esseboom disclosed.
The training session saw Esseboom, who also functions as a Lecturer at the University of Guyana, focusing on the journalistic aspect of the training Epidemiologist within the Ministry’s Surveillance Unit facilitating the technical aspect. The training was held in the boardroom of the National Blood Transfusion Service situated at Lamaha and East Streets, Georgetown.