The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is calling on all media institutions both national and international journalists to protect the privacy of the patients and healthcare workers in discharging the function at the various health facilities across Liberia.
Speaking yesterday at the regular Ebola hour press briefing of the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism, the assistant Minister for Preventive Services at MOH&SW, Tolbert Nyenswah, said, the policy recognizes the importance of increasing local, national and international understanding of the status of the healthcare system in Liberia.
“This policy covered all interviews, written, audio-taped and videotaped that occurred within the grounds of a healthcare facility or areas outside the facility perimeter that have been determined to be restricted. It also covered all photography, video recording of health facility determined to be restricted.”
He continued that, the policy also covered communication from healthcare facility employees to any news or commercial media representative, adding that “The policy also recognized that patient care is the overriding priority for every healthcare facility.”
According to him, the policy outlines procedures for news organizations to secure approval to take video or photography as well as conduct interviews at a healthcare facility during the period of the National Ebola Response.
He said, although, the government supports public awareness of the efforts to stop the epidemic, because of the extensive amount of infection and the extremely contagious nature of the Ebola virus, stating that, the safety of those who are well and care for those ill must be this nation’s top priority.
Mr. Nyenswah said, with the expansion of the initial Ebola outbreak in Liberia into an epidemic, the number of local media and international media have been interested in covering the disease and the response to it has increased significantly.
He called on all media institutions both local and international to request approval for news interviews at healthcare facilities at least one full business day in advance of visiting any health care facility through the MOH&SW’s appendices.
“The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, including County Health Officer will establish clear and simple processes for requesting news coverage of healthcare facilities and will designate a person or persons to respond promptly in writing to those requesting with medical official serving as the spokesperson in the process.”
The Minister further said, the health facilities will designate a qualified person to accompany all reporters and crews where needed and designate where area to be use either outside the facility or inside the facility but away from any areas restricted by this policy.