The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) and the West Africa Journalists Association (WAJA) have today called on the International and African media to exercise balanced and proper coverage of the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa.
The outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in West Africa is unprecedented and the number of cases and casualties has kept increasing in the three countries, namely Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone which have become the epicentre of the epidemic.
The countries and communities affected, the health personnel and stakeholders are unfamiliar with the disease and the complexities of dealing with the appropriate equipment, facilities, and the socio-cultural beliefs and practices, including burial practices. Misinformation and spread of rumours and myths about the Ebola virus have also aggravated appropriate and timely responses.
“We call on our colleagues to assist in the mass sensitization approaches that address fear and stigma around the Ebola virus disease and motivate people to adopt healthy practices at all levels which can have direct impact on reducing the spread of the disease, especially in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.” said Mohammed Garba, President of the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ).
“We also invite the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) to quickly engage concrete actions to assist the affected countries to roll back the epidemic.” Garba added.
The efforts to contain and roll back the ongoing spread of the disease and to bring the epidemic to an end have gained momentum, commitment and capacity.
However the risks of further spread are still present and need to be addressed especially with the support of neighbouring countries.
“It is our collective responsibility to prevent the spread of the disease, but state authorities have the greatest responsibility by cooperating with the media and journalists to fight the rapid spread of the virus, and curtail the panic across the region.” said Peter Quaqua, President of WAJA.
Quaqua commended WAWA's participation in the Forum on Ebola Communication and Prevention, organised on 8 and 9 September in Dakar. WAJA urged health and humanitarian personnel to share more information with journalists who have the duty to inform on possible contaminations.
“The closure of news outlets or jailing of journalists for libel in this case will not help fight the Ebola virus disease.” Quaqua added.
For more information, please contact FAJ Secretariat: +221 33 867 95 86/87
The FAJ represents more than 50,000 journalists in 40 countries in Africa