The World Health Organisation and the Nigerian Ministry of Health are instituting awards for health journalists in Nigeria.
This was disclosed at a Two Day Training for Health Journalists, in Abuja.
The training was aimed at farmiliarising health journalists of the activities of the WHO in Nigeria.
The WHO Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Wondimagegnehu Alemu, explained that the workshop was aimed at engaging journalists who are covering the health sector on how to report WHO’s mandate in supporting Federal Government.
He said that journalists are partners in progress in the actualisation of the health agenda, towards attaining Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
On his part, WHO’s Dr. Rex Mpazanje, urged journalists to use their platforms to scale up interventions in the health sector.
In his message, the Nigerian minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said that he supports the award for journalists covering the health sector initiated by the WHO and promised sponsor one category of the award categories.
He also charged the journalists at the training to expose all ills in the health sector.
He said that such exposures would enable him and the general public, have a better understanding of the challenges affecting the health sector.
Prof. Adewole added that all issues reported would be promptly attended to
The minister who was represented by the Director, Media and Public Relations of the ministry, Mrs Boade Akinola, urged journalists to remain committed and contribute their quota by giving Nigerians the right information that would improve their health status.
“If people have the right information and also live right, disease burden will be reduced and people can be free to run around for their daily activities,” he said.
On his part, Professor Umaru Pate of the Faculty of Communication, Bayero University, Kano, charged journalists to strive at all times ”to impart the right information, to the right people, in the right way, at the right time”.
Various papers were on WHO and its workings as well as principles of journalism were presented at the training.
Presenting a paper titled: Journalists, Social Responsibility and the Reporting of Public Health in Nigeria, Prof. Pate, identified some challenges confronting the media practitioners to include professional inadequacies ,commercialisation, absence of monitoring and evaluation mechanism, funding, low interest on issues of health than politics or economics and weak research and investigative capacity.
Participants at the workshop were drawn from both the print, electronic and online media organisations across Nigeria.