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Bunyoro journalists tasked to spearhead Ebola awareness campaigns

FILE PHOTO: Ebola awareness

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Journalists in the Albertine Graben have been asked to be at the forefront of the Ebola awareness campaign.

The call was made on Wednesday by Nathan Isingoma Kitwe, the Hoima district council speaker at an Ebola awareness campaign for Bunyoro journalists, organized by Uganda Radio Network and Hewlett foundation.

Kitwe says millions of people listen and believe in what the media publishes, therefore, the media should use the available platforms to routinely spread Ebola awareness information.

He says following the recent Ebola outbreaks in Kasese and the Democratic Republic of Congo-DRC that borders Bunyoro, journalists in the region should be at the forefront of Ebola awareness campaign.

Kitwe also tasked the journalists to always deliver the factual Ebola messages confirmed by the Health officials. He adds that on several occasions, journalists have used their platforms to spread wrong Ebola messages creating panic in the community.

Dr Fred Kugonza, the Hoima district disease surveillance officer urged the media to join hands with the district Ebola task force teams to verify Ebola information in order to always communicate the facts.

Rev. John Kitalibara from Bunyoro Kitara Kingdom says that the institution is ready to spearhead the fight against Ebola. He, however, says there are some cultural practices that hinder Ebola prevention in Bunyoro. He cites handshaking practices by the Bunyoro.

Kitalibara says as the kingdom, they have taken the Ebola awareness campaigns to burials, churches and in meetings.

Dr Isaya Musinguzi, the Emergency Health officer United Nations Children’s Fund-UNICEF says the district Ebola task force teams across Bunyoro sub-region should always involve the media in their weekly meetings so that they can be fully equipped with the relevant and sufficient knowledge on Ebola.

Dr Fred Ssewankambo, the Ebola Virus Disease-EVD Field coordinator world Health organization- WHO says journalists play a pivotal role in mobilization of the masses and therefore should be used as a pillar of spreading the Ebola awareness campaigns in the sub-region.

However, most of the journalists expressed concern over failure by the relevant technical officers to provide information.

Jamil Tumusiime from Karuguza Community Radio in Kibaale says they have tried several times to contact the Ebola task force teams in the sub region for information in vain.

In June, Ministry of Health declared an outbreak of Ebola in Kasese after three people tested positive. The three victims including a five-year-old boy eventually succumbed to the disease. They had entered Uganda through an ungazetted entry point from DRC.

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