HIV/AIDS media training starts in Cameroon
Community radio practitioners gather today from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali and Niger to attend a week-long training that forms the basis of UNESCO's "Science of HIV and AIDS" media training programme implemented since 2003 in Bangkok, Chennai, and Kampala.
The training methodology is for the first time adapted for francophone Africa and for community media use of ICTs to research scientific information on HIV and AIDS. Community media is largely predominant in francophone West Africa and has the potential to increase health communication outreach to local communities.
The workshop aims to provide participants with increased confidence and skills to communicate more effectively on HIV and AIDS. It is expected to unfold an improved understanding about the science of the epidemic and recent research findings related to drug regimes and the development of a vaccine.
"AIDS is a regular subject of our health chronicles and of public awareness campaigns . . . we have devoted a weekly schedule on health issues but we've been carrying out AIDS awareness raising for the past 4 years . . . we are committed [in the fight against AIDS] as [AIDS] prevails dramatically in the city . . . " wrote Bonkano Bawa in response to a rapid assessment prior to the workshop. Bawa represents Radio Fara located in between the borders of Nigeria, Benin and Niger, in the rural town of Gaya.
"We badly encounter difficulties . . . human resources are not always available to put together stories and people living with HIV seldom agree to speak . . . neither will associations finance programs" responded Fanta from Senegal to the same assessment questionnaire.
The opening ceremony was attended by two Ministers from Cameroon -- Urbain Olanguena Awono, Minister of Public Health and Chairman of the National Committee in the Fight against HIV and AIDS, and Pierre Moukoko Mbonjo, Minister of Communication.
At the opening ceremony, Bernard Hadjadj, Director of the UNESCO Cluster Office in Yaoundé addressed the participants: "It is important for the manager of any community radio station to distinguish between the myths surrounding HIV and AIDS, and the factual, science based information that will hold governments and communities accountable for their actions. Based on credible information, community media can educate the public about prevention, offer methods for coping with the disease, and discredit stereotypes surrounding HIV and AIDS."
The week-long training led by former senior journalist of Radio France International, Colette Berthoud, and ICT specialist, Timothée Mezom Melouta will result in the French version of the MMTK module on HIV and AIDS also with a special focus addressing community radio needs.