On Tuesday, February 16, 2021, Press House - Palestine (BAS) organized a dialogue session on the topic of “The Right to Practice Freedom of Expression & Access to Information” as part of “Journalists Have Power” project activities funded by the Government of Canada.
With high prevention measures to prevent the outbreak of COVID19, Dr. Ashraf Al-Qedra, spokesman of the Ministry of Health in Gaza Strip, Dr. Magdi Dhair, Deputy Director of Primary Care at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Ahmed Hammad Head of Public Relations at Al-Aqsa University, Mr. Abdullah Sharshra, coordinator of Legal Protection Unit at Press House, and a group of journalists (women and men) participated in the dialogue session.
Mr. Abdullah Sharshra opened the session praising the role of the Ministry of Health in providing journalists (women and men) and citizens with information, numbers and statistics quickly. Also, he thanked Al-Aqsa University for organizing the session in partnership with Press House.
From his part, Dr. Ashraf Al-Qedra indicated that the Ministry of Health has recently begun working on the digital media system announcing that the Ministry will launch the digital facilitating tasks after the completion of renewing the platform. He said, “all the employees of the Ministry of Health in Gaza recognize and respect freedom of expression and facilitate providing Health information to community members easily.” Dr. Ashraf Al-Qedra also added, “the Ministry of Health had the leading role in providing information around 24 hours during COVID19 pandemic and in many political events, such as wars, escalations, assassinations and other emergencies.” Talking about the COVID19 period in particular, Dr. Ashraf Al-Qedra said, “during COVID 19 pandemic, the Ministry of Health published a number of 177 press statements in Arabic, 107 in English, 7,760 press releases, 1,715 news and reports, and 1,158 video reports. Besides, Ministry of Health has facilitated for 3,085 missions for journalists.
Dr. Ahmed Hammad praised the declaration emergency situation in Palestine by president Mahmoud Abbas during COVID19 pointing out that the legislations and laws issued by President Abbas are not applied in the Gaza Strip because of division. Also, he called for updating the Publications and Publish law and regulating the media relations among the ministries in the light of political situation in Palestine.
The dialogue session included many participations from journalists (women and men); most of them focused on the right of accessing information for all community segments and ensuring its accuracy.