The emergence of pandemics and other medical conditions has drawn attention, perhaps more than ever before, to the importance of understanding of research for dissemination to the public.
Unfortunately, the complexity of such research products makes the field less attractive to many journalists who have to dig deep for such information.
Many medical experts, on the other hand, have little or no ability to break their findings into simple language for the ordinary person.
The situation gives rise to a plethora of distorted and fake news, with devastating consequences for healthcare delivery and, especially, management of pandemics like Covid-19.
The Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and the Multimedia Group Limited have set out to bridge the gap by training medical journalists.
The two institutions have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to allow medical students who are interested in health journalism to begin their career development with the media giant.
The deal formalizes an existing arrangement for a general internship under which two students have already taken their electives in Medical Journalism this year.
Dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, Prof Daniel Ansong, says the programme will help students design, analyse, write, and edit medical research findings in various fields of medicine.
Students will be familiar with the production and publication of medical research and activities.
They will also be able to revise medical news articles, evaluate research in relation to medical journalism and constructively critique medical research.
At the official signing of the MoU, KNUST Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Kwasi Obiri-Danso, was hopeful the collaboration would foster continued engagement of experts in the media space.
“There are people called the ‘generists’ who speak on everything whiles the experts are never consulted. For us in academia, it’s a worry. Going forward, we hope this relationship will make people more comfortable speaking with the media,” he said.
Chief Operating Officer at Multimedia Group, Ken Ansah, and General Manager for Kumasi Business Unit, Jim Aglah, took turns to emphasize the importance of communication in effecting societal change.
“We’re always encouraging people in subject areas to take up the profession of journalism to tell stories because the trust and belief in what they say will be much higher because they understand issues better,” Mr Ansah noted.
On his part, Mr Aglah pointed out, “the need for providing accurate information, especially, in these times towards shaping people’s behavior has become very crucial, so we embrace the idea.”
Ashanti Regional Chairman of the Ghana Journalists Association, Kingsley Hope wouldn’t agree less.
“Subjects experts need to have control over the issues so that when you put it out there, whoever is reading it will grasp. There’s energy in writing for somebody to understand,” he’s stressed.
Present at the ceremony were Vice-Chancellor, Prof Kwasi Obiri-Danso, newly-appointed Vice-Chancellor, Prof Rita Akosua Dickson, Registrar, Andrews Kwasi Boateng; and Dean of International Programmes Office, Prof Rexford Assase Oppong, Dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, Prof. Daniel Ansong.
The rest were Chief Operating Officer at Multimedia Group, Ken Ansah, and General Manager for Kumasi Business Unit, Jim Aglah; The Multimedia Group’s Science Journalist, Emmanuel Kwasi Debrah and Ashanti Regional Chairman of Ghana Journalists Association, Kingsley Hope. Dr Daniel Berkoe and James Kwasi Oberko were from the University Relations Office at KNUST.
Paulina Boadiwaa Mensah is a 5th-year medical student; Nana Kwarteng Animuoyam and Viviette Asokwa are both 4th-year medical students.