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VOA Trains Central America Reporters in Crisis Reporting

Pandemic & natural disaster situations covered

Panama City, Panama, February 26, 2010 – More than 20 reporters from every country in Central America attended a two-day Voice of America (VOA) training session on critical health issues related to influenza and natural disasters.

Organized by VOA's Office of Development in Panama City, Panama, the Feb. 24-25 training exercises included roundtable discussions, analysis and knowledge-sharing by panelists from several International Organizations including the Pan American Health Organization, (PAHO), the United States Agency for International Development and Disaster Assistance (USAID), the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO), and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA/APHIS), among others.

Topics discussed included the creation of simple and direct messages in cases of critical health emergencies under a possible pandemic and during a natural disaster.

The main focus of the influenza crisis addressed how to inform the population on prevention, containment and information dissemination in the event of a crisis caused by the H1N1 or H5N1 virus. The unique challenges of reaching populations during crises caused by natural disasters (lack of clean water, food and medications) were also covered.

One of the mandates of the Voice of America is to provide training in critical journalism skills around the world, particularly in issues pertaining to health.

The Voice of America, which first went on the air in 1942, is a multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. Government through the Broadcasting Board of Governors. VOA broadcasts approximately 1,500 hours of news, information, educational, and cultural programming every week to an estimated worldwide audience of more than 125 million people. Programs are produced in 45 languages and are intended exclusively for audiences outside of the United States.

For more information, call VOA Public Relations at (202) 203-4959, or e-mail