Foreigners expect transparency across the nation

(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-12-29 07:00

Joanna Brent, spokeswoman of the World Health Organization (WHO) China Office

Q: How do you feel about being WHO's China Office spokesperson in Beijing? If you have had worked as a spokesperson overseas, what is the difference?

A: Working as a spokesperson for WHO in China is a fantastic and challenging experience. Public health in China is an increasingly important issue. Having a role in promoting and raising awareness of important public health issues in China is extremely rewarding and stimulating.

My role at WHO has many similarities with my job in Australia as a spokesperson for a politician.

But there are also some interesting differences. In China, the potential of the media to be a positive and productive partner in communicating public messages is not always fully realised.

It is great to be part of efforts to encourage greater media participation in health education.

Q: Do you think information on health issues in China is transparent? Has there been any improvement compared with the situation in years past? Do you have any further suggestions?

A: The SARS outbreak in 2003 was a wake-up call for China and has resulted in a rapid expansion of the government's role in public health, especially in areas such as disease surveillance and the prevention and control of infectious diseases.

Over the last year the Chinese Government has been focusing more and more on public health. President Hu Jintao's statement in October that all Chinese should be able to access essential health services no matter who they are or where they live demonstrated the most important ingredient for successful health reform in China political will.

In recent months, there has also been renewed commitment to international collaboration and information-sharing on global threats like avian influenza.

Daisuke Fujiwara, Correspondent for the Beijing bureau of the Tokyo Broadcasting System

Q: What's the most exciting story you plan to do after January?

A: I'd very much like to go to rural areas in China because farmers' issues are the biggest challenge for China.

In the past, we didn't have much access to villages as many rural officials didn't want us to interview in their area.

Baruh Kohen, Sport 5 Channel of Israel

Q: Do you have any expectations for the regulation?

A: The Olympic Games will have a great influence on Chinese society, its economy and the daily lives of the residents of Beijing.

I really hope that the foreign media will be able to express this tremendous change to viewers and readers around the world before, during and after the 2008 Olympics.

Mark Daniel Magnier, Los Angeles Times

Q: What do you think of this new regulation?

A: I think it is a very good step forward. It is a very encouraging change.

If it is implemented well, it will be of great help to our work.

Q: Do you have any expectations for the regulation?

A: I would certainly like to see the regulation continue beyond the Olympics.

Q: Do you have any concerns?

A: My concern is about how well the Foreign Ministry communicates with local authorities, if it is possible that local governments don't know about the regulation.

(China Daily 12/29/2006 page3)

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