CHI Trains Journalists in SRHR Reporting

By: Laymah Kollie

Monrovia-February 19,2024: Amid limited information on the Public Health Law especially the standardization of Abortion portion in Liberia, a local Civil Society Organization, Community Healthcare Initiative and Partners during the weekend completed a four day training on ways Journalists can effectively report on the matter.

The training aimed to engage media professionals in reflective sessions to explore personal values and potential biases related to safe abortion and how these may influence their reporting.

It also focused on facilitating open dialogues to address dilemmas, misconceptions, and stigmas surrounding safe abortion.

Naomi Tulay-Solanke, Executive Director of Community Healthcare Initiatives (CHI) and a member of the advocacy working group spearheading the campaign for the enactment of the new public health law, emphasized the importance of accurate information in shaping public perceptions and attitudes. 

Mrs. Solanke: “Information and how it shifts public perceptions and attitudes so we feel that if we are working with you to address this particular topic, it is very important, and the accuracy that it provides enables you to report from a space of empathy and also putting women right center approach and not at your own bias that you come with.”

“We thought it wise that over the years in as much as we are advocating for a safe space as it relates to sexual reproductive health and rights, particularly women’s rights to their body anatomy we needed to partner with the media,” Mrs. Solanke stated.
Moreover, she said  the media landscape is something that cannot be overemphasized and all must work together to unpack how stigmatizing attitudes toward abortion in the media cause harm to women and girls and how can we collectively identify a way forward to promote access to SRHR services specifically around safe abolition care in Liberia.”

The women’s rights defender echoed the need for journalists to report on SRHR issues with empathy, centering women’s voices without bias.

Like Mrs. Solanke- Ms. Leila Precious Dolo, the Executive of the “Help a Mother and Newborn Initiative,” pointed out need for women to have autonomy over their bodies, emphasizing the importance of media involvement in raising awareness about sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) issues. Dolo believes that media coverage can reach a wide audience and contribute to changing societal mindsets on these critical topics.

She called for open and safe dialogues that allow individuals to share their perspectives, challenge preconceived notions, and engage in continuous learning and advocacy for SRHR issues. the advocate envisions a future where people work together to promote positive change, including advocating for the passage of new public health laws that protect and uphold women’s reproductive rights.

With a strong belief in the power of informed discussions and collective action, Ms. Leila Precious Dolo encourages individuals to educate themselves, engage in meaningful conversations, and take steps toward becoming advocates for sexual and reproductive health and rights within their communities and beyond.

Following the training, Journalists were encouraged to engage in discussions around the rights of women and girls on safe abortion and as well as produce focused contents on human rights issues.

In 2021, Liberia witnessed an alarming number of 38,779 induced abortions, as reported by the Ministry of Health (MoH) in collaboration with the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), the Africa Population and Health Research Center (APHRC), and Guttmacher in 2023. 

This equates to an induced abortion rate of 30.7 per 1,000 women of reproductive age and an induced abortion ratio of 229 abortions per 1,000 live births.
This concerning data has heightened a crucial dialogue on the necessity for accessible and affordable sexual and reproductive health services in Liberia, along with the promotion of safe abortion practices to curb the fatalities resulting from unsafe abortion procedures. 
However, some individuals, particularly religious and traditional leaders, hold beliefs that conflict with these practices, citing religious and cultural norms.

The current public health legislation in Liberia is undergoing review in the Senate, with a specific focus on the legality of safe abortion. Various stakeholders, including religious leaders, healthcare professionals, and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), have responded divergently to this legislative development. 
The intersection of reproductive rights, ethical considerations, and the health and well-being of women and girls remains at the forefront of discussions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *