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Media Practitioners Gain Skills On AIDS Reporting 

By Walter Wilson Nana
The Cameroon Baptist Convention, CBC, Health Services, recently drilled media practitioners in reporting HIV/AIDS, given that part of the fight against the pandemic is the quality of information given out to the public. 
As part of its HIV Free Southwest Project, whose intent is to scale up and strengthen the quality of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission, PMTCT, the CBC Health Services, invited some 50 media practitioners from across the Southwest Region to hone their skills as they report on the ailment.  
Programme Manager of HIV Free Southwest Region, Evelyn Mboh Asongwe, told reporters and related media officials to integrate health matters in their daily activities and news items, while giving a careful thought to the content they dish out for public consumption.
According to Mboh, the media has a responsibility to mobilise patients, members of the community, especially those living with HIV/AIDS, to come to the health facilities for diagnosis and subsequently follow their treatment. 
“We have a community component in our project to sensitise the public on the importance of attending Ante Natal Care, ANC. And that is why we are working hand-in-glove with the media so that they report health issues and HIV/AIDS as often as possible. Remember, health is wealth,” she explained.
Mboh said from the perspective of the CBC Health Services, the HIV/AIDS prevalence in Cameroon is dropping. 
“I am talking about the number of people who have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. From 2000, the prevalence was 11.5 percent, today, it is 5.56 percent. At CBC Health Services, we wrote some abstracts to indicate our contribution in this drop in the prevalence. At the national level, from the demographic health studies, you recall our prevalence was 5.5 percent, now it is 4.3 percent as per the last study that I know about. More surveys have been conducted. So, we are upbeat that the prevalence is on the decrease, with the experience we are gathering from the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission programme,” she stated.
The Healthcare official said the CBC Health Services is joining forces with the Ministry of Public Health, alongside partners involved in the health sector and HIV/AIDS in particular, to eradicate HIV/AIDS in Cameroon. 
“We have about three different components dedicated to various aspects of the fight against HIV/AIDS; the youths, the orphans, prevention from mother to child transmission and treatment for those already affected.”
She expressed delight that the HIV Free Southwest Programme is on course and meeting expectations. 
Two journalists from CRTV Southwest Regional Station with deep interest in health reporting; Julius Teke and Matute Menyoli, shared their experiences with colleagues, while indicating that HIV/AIDS messages, newspaper, radio and TV reports should not cast doubts in the minds of the reader, listener and viewer, but the respective reports should be inclusive in nature.
They expressed the need for clarity, accuracy, balance, relying on sources and professionals in health issues, while watching out for taboos and stereotypes. They implored media practitioners to always be on the learning side, reminding colleagues that knowledge is evolving with the changing times.

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