Written by Contributing Writer Edwin G. Genoway, Jr (231886458910)
Published: 27 February 2015

Monrovia – The Communications Officer of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (Liberia), Madam Lisa White has called on Liberian journalists to properly research their information before putting it out for public consumption. She made a specific reference to journalists that are involved in reporting on Ebola victims.

Speaking at the Royal Grand Hotel in Monrovia Wednesday February 25, 2015 where she served as a facilitator at a media training workshop on the Ebola trial vaccine in Liberia, Madam White said verifying information before publication will help the public get accurate information. Journalists mainly attended the workshop from various media institutions in Liberia including the president of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) Abdullah Kamara.

She urged journalists to protect the identity of those who have been infected with the virus and their family members. Madam White frowned on the misapplication of photos being used by print media, citing an example of journalists using a dead body photo on their front pages, “We need to protect the family of the dead or Ebola infected from stigma, if we publish the photos of these individuals, we stigmatize their families for life,” she cautioned journalists.

She wants journalists to be ethical in their reportage, saying, people normally trust the information that comes out of the media. The United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response (UNMEER) is a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Web mapping application that provides easy and convenient ways to collect, query, map, analyze and share freely available geospatial data and information resources from any device, anywhere, at any time.

Speaking about the ongoing trial vaccine that was recently launched at the Redemption Hospital, a principal investigator of the Partnership for Research on Ebola Vaccine in Liberia (PREVAIL). Dr. Stephen Kennedy disclosed that he has taken the vaccine, saying, the vaccine is safe and one needs not to be afraid to take it.

Dr. Stephen Kennedy, head of the vaccination team in Liberia, admitted recently that the Health Ministry and its partners had largely ignored the media, leading to a serious gap in the public’s understanding of the vaccine trials. Dr. Kennedy Explained that the vaccine trial is on a voluntary basis and no Liberian is forced or paid for taking it. He, however, noted that though the trial vaccine is on a voluntary basis a transportation reimbursement is given to those taking the vaccine.

He did not specify the amount that is given to those taking the vaccine, adding that the act of reimbursement is an international best practice, swaying, “ we will not want to keep these for about six hours and not given them transportation reimbursement,” he noted.

Speaking earlier the president of the PUL Abdullah Kamara thanked the organizers of the workshop, Crusaders for Peace and PREVAIL bringing journalists together and giving them an idea on how the vaccine works. Kamara said if the journalists who directly interact with the public through radio, TV, or Print are informed about the vaccine, they will properly present the information their audience for better understanding.

The trial process, according to information, is being led by a Liberia-U.S. Clinical Research Partnership sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID). It is expected that over 27,000 health practitioners of age 18 and above will participate in the process, which will last for more than a year.

The trial is seeking volunteers from groups at particular risk of Ebola infection, including health care workers, communities with ongoing transmission, contact tracers and members of burial teams. Participants will be assigned at random to one of three equal-sized groups. Volunteers in one group will receive a placebo (saline) injection, while the others will receive a single injection of either the cAd3-EBOZ vaccine or the VSV-ZEBOV vaccine.

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