About 30 journalists of a Hindi national daily, Dainik Jagran, shared their stories on covering Indian Health Care in their respective regions. They were attending a workshop on ‘Critical Appraisal Skills’ (CAS) or how to report on health matters, a course for health journalists, conceptualised in collaboration with Thomson Reuters Foundation, Indian Institute of Mass Communication and Oxford University. The workshop organised by UNICEF India on 28 & 29 December, 2018, at Hotel Radisson Blu in Ghaziabad, near Delhi.

Pervaiz Alam, who has been involved in designing the course since its inception, reports from the UNICEF workshop.

Backgrounder:

With the government sparing just 1.3 per cent of the GDP for public healthcare, way less than the global average of 6 per cent, there remains a severe scarcity of doctors in the country and people continue to incur heavy medical expenditure across rural and urban hospitals. These are among the grim facts recorded in the National Health Profile 2018, an annual report released recently by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence (CBHI)

UNICEF launched an online version of the ‘Critical Appraisal Skills’ (CAS) course for health journalists in 2018. This course has been conceptualised in collaboration with Thomson Reuters Foundation, Indian Institute of Mass Communication and Oxford University. The course is available for entry and mid-level health reporters. It aims to enhance the capacities of media representatives to generate factual and non-sensational reports.

Evidence shows that a well-researched news story, underpinned with an evidence-based approach can help mitigate any adverse perception about large scale public health initiatives such as the Routine Immunization programmes. It also helps dispel myths and fears and ensures pro-active public participation. This becomes catalytic for the success of large scale health initiatives.

In January 2018, the Indian Institute of Mass Communication integrated the course as a module within all the eight communication streams that it presently teaches.

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