The call was made recently in Moshi, Kilimanjaro Region by veteran journalist, Lawrence Kilimwiko, during a two-day follow up road safety media training which was jointly organised by World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children.
“Solution-based stories provides a clear picture of what needs to be constituted in the road safety initiatives to address road crashes that cost the lives of many people by including various stakeholders including policy makers, government officials and others,” Kilimwiko said.
He added: “Journalists are social workers; they need to have ability to raise substantive issues that spark public debate among stakeholders on road safety and public health matters”.
Kilimwiko underscored the need for journalists to have the ability of producing informative and persuasive evidence-based stories that can convince policy makers and authorities to take action.
Traffic Police commander Fortunatus Muslim urged journalists to make use of the opportunity available in the training that can influence changes in the road safety.
“You should let the public have better understanding of road safety as well as insisting on them to adhere to traffic rules to reduce road accidents,” he noted.
He added that journalist play a crucial role in assisting the government in reducing road crashes because it also affects investment. Investors would love to inject money in a country which has no road crashes.
“Road crashes is a collective responsibility that needs joint efforts from all stakeholders, but specific efforts are needed to be invested in the public education on road safety,” said Muslim.
Mary Kessi national professional officer (violence and injuries prevention) for WHO said the training was meant to empower journalists to understand legal gaps present in the road safety in order to influence changes in the specific area.
“We wanted to impart skills on data visualization which enables them to have the skills of using the available data to show the scope of the problem,” she said.
The programme runs for five years (2015-2019) under the support from Bloomberg.
She said the Philanthropies Initiative for Global Road Safety (BIGRS) has train 42 journalists with ability to report solution-based stories on matters of road safety.
Statistics from WHO shows that each year, an estimated 1.3 million people are killed in traffic crashes around the world and another 20-50 million are injured. That’s 3,500 people killed a day from road traffic crashes alone.
Roads are the single largest killer of young people in the world killing more 5-14 year olds than malaria, diarrhea and HIV/AIDS combined.