United States Agency for Global Media

Afghanistan/Pakistan workshop on best practices of polio reporting

June 25-28 2018

BBG and VOA held a three-day workshop in Dubai, UAE, from June 25-27, for 25 Afghan and Pakistani journalists affiliated with the Voice of America, RFE/RL and other local media outlets in the two countries. Seven experts from UNICEF, CDC, WHO, BBG and the Ministry of Public Health Afghanistan provided a comprehensive training to the participants that included interactive presentations, discussions, Q&A, and group exercises. The workshop was underwritten by CDC.

Training Objectives:

  • Build capacity of local journalists to report on polio related health issues
  • Prepare and respond to health crisis
  • Enhance health media campaign based on lessons learned from reporting on polio


The workshop provided an opportunity for journalists on both side of the Durand Line between Pakistan and Afghanistan to expand their knowledge of polio infection, prevention and intervention; and showed them the need for a coordinated effort, not just within the two countries, but across the border among all the stakeholders, including journalists. Through in-depth discussions and case studies with CDC, UNICEF, WHO and MoH experts, the workshop participants leaned about the strengths and blind spots in their reporting on polio.

Expert Feedback:

Celeste Hibbert, Communications Specialist, UNICEF Afghanistan:

“…Most workshops do not keep time, which reduces participant motivation, but the strong facilitation skills provided by VOA and BBG helped build a rapport and kept everyone attentive throughout each session.

…It was brilliant to have such strong facilitators that can speak the local language (such as Ibrahim). This could be scaled-up, especially sessions that require a deep understanding of the local context, such as security and health issues from an Islamic perspective.”

Tuuli Hongisto, Communications Officer, WHO Afghanistan:

 “…I think the meeting was valuable for the Afghanistan team as it gave us an opportunity to provide some basic information and correct some misunderstandings for the journalists.

It was also valuable to establish personal links with the media, so that it will be easier for them to contact us with any questions in the future.”

Dr. Shamsher Khan, Regional Adviser on Polio, UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia:

 “I am requesting … the stories on Polio eradication by the journalists from both countries. These can be used in the field by our social mobilizers going house to house to promote Polio vaccinations especially among refusal families.”


  • CDC
  • Yolonda Freeman
    Lead Health Communication Specialist for Division of Global Immunization Division, CDC
  • Dan Rutz
    Health Communications Consultant
  • Raheel Khan
    Communications Officer, UNICEF Pakistan
  • Dr. Shamsher Ali Khan
    UNICEF Polio Regional Advisor
  • Marjan Raskih
    National Polio Communication Consultant at the Ministry of Public Health, Afghanistan
  • Celeste Hibbert
    Communications Specialist, UNICEF Afghanistan
  • Tuuli Hongisto
    Communications Officer, WHO Afghanistan
  • Iftikhar Hussain
    VOA Deewa Service Program Manager
  • Ibrahim Nasar
    VOA Afghan Special Projects Manager
  • Naqibullah Miankhel
    Polio Communications Specialist, UNICEF Afghanistan
  • Inna Dubinsky
    Training & Development Manager, BBG