A Voice of America-organized health reporting seminar in Hong Kong this week brought Chinese journalists together with U.S. experts for a first-of-its-kind meeting that focused on avian influenza, disaster preparedness and the use of new mapping technologies to track disease.
Melinda Frost, a health communications officer from the Beijing office of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, said the two-day gathering, “provided participants from a wide variety of news outlets in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau a broad perspective on the complexities of health emergencies and a glimpse of how to use social media to gain an intimate look at the public’s perspective on health.”
The workshop was the first VOA-organized training session on health issues for Chinese reporters. Health experts at the two-day event discussed the media’s role and responsibility in providing accurate information in a crisis. The journalists also toured the laboratory of the Influenza Research Center at Hong Kong University’s Pasteur Center.
Reporters from China Youth Daily, Yunnan Information Daily and Shenzhen Special Zone Daily and other organizations took part in the event.
Independent writer Jenny Xia said, “I do hope this kind of workshop can be organized regularly.”
Brian Herbert, who works with www.crowdmap.com, discussed how journalists can use new platforms to collect and map health information during a health crisis or a disaster.
Since 2006, VOA has trained more than 600 journalists around the world on public health information about avian influenza and disaster preparedness. The workshops, funded by the Department of State, have been held in Kazakhstan, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Senegal, Togo, Nigeria, Benin, Kenya, South Africa, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama, Argentina and Bolivia.