From: Alice Taylor
WHO and Ministry of Health Promote Media Transparency but Still Don’t Reply to Questions

Representatives of WHO Europe and the Albanian Ministry of Health and Social Protection have been working with local journalists on best practices for reporting on COVID-19 and seasonal influenza. Exit has taken part in this training.

The training is a part of the ongoing interactive training programme produced by the WHO and the MHSP which commits to improving the quality of health reporting and health literacy across the media.

MHSP advisor Etiola Kola said the government is committed to supporting the media, adding “we are happy to take this process further, both in terms of knowledge and transparency, with the support of WHO.”

Unfortunately, Kola has failed to answer any of the six lots of questions sent to her department from Exit in the last month. The WHO also promised to respond to some questions and then their media advisor stopped replying despite attempts to contact him via email and on the phone. Investigative fact-busting platform Faktoje also noted that the Ministry of Health had the lowest reply rates for questions and requests for information.

Speaking to journalists, Dr Siddhartha Datta from WHO/Europe and Dr Silvia Bino from the Albanian Institute of Public Health used the opportunity to elaborate on why we need a vaccine against COVID-19, as well as the range of products currently in trials. They went on to explain the mechanisms in place for the development and deployment of vaccines and the role of WHO in this process. Dr Bino also noted the expertise of Albania’s specialized institutions.

Dr Menne expressed hope that the dialogue would prove fruitful for both the health system institutions and for the media itself. Attendance was supported by the Albanian Association of European Journalists and a follow-up session aims to address issues raised by participating journalists.