By Dan-Maryam Zayamu
Concerned about the lack of interest by most Nigerians to uptake the COVID-19 vaccine, the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ), has called on relevant government health agencies in Nigeria and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to partner more with the Association in order to overcome all challenges bedeviling the health sector including the current COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy displayed by most Nigerians.
ANHEJ stated this in a communique issued at the end of its annual conference which was held in Nasarawa State, recently.
The communique which was signed by the President and General Secretary of the Association, Hassan Zaggi and Gloria Essien, respectively, further advised the Federal Ministry of Health to show more seriousness it its efforts at tackling the challenges bedeviling the health sector.
The conference was with the theme: “Improving confidence in COVID-19 vaccines in Nigeria beyond 2021: The Role of the Media.”
“The conference expressed displeasure over the continuous absence of the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire , and the Minister of State for Health, Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, at ANHEJ conferences. This recurrent absence in discussions aimed at improving the health sector portrays the health ministers and indeed, the entire Ministry of Health as not serious in the efforts to improve the health of Nigerians.
“The Conference also called for improvement on the relationship between the media and the Federal Ministry of Health, especially in prompt response to inquiries and regular interactive sessions for better understanding.
“The conference while commending agencies in the health sector, however, called on them to redouble their efforts, work hard and closely with the media to resolve the challenges in the sector.”
The communique also charge the Health Journalists to use data from authorized sources in their reportage so as to create proper understanding of issues in the health sector and also cross check their information and ensure accurate attribution before going to the press.
“Health journalists should no longer play to the gallery on issues of health concerns. They should concentrate more on investigations to unravel hidden issues bedeviling the growth of the health sector.
“The need for health journalist to improve themselves, take advantage of online courses and other opportunities provided by partners,” the communique said.
The conference, however, charged Health journalists to increase coverage on mental health and also ensure they too, are mentally healthy for them to do their work well.
By Dan-Maryam Zayamu