• Thursday, June 20, 2024
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CCSI partners Pathfinders to train journalists on women’s health reportage

CCSI partners Pathfinders to train journalists on women’s health reportage

By Ngozi Okpalakunne

The role of the media in promoting positive change and advocating for improved women’s health services in Nigeria was a major issue discussed at a one–day training organised for journalists in Lagos.

The exercise which was put together by the Center for Communication and Social Impact (CCSI) in collaboration with Pathfinders International also exposed the participants to the best practices for reporting sensitive women’s health topics such as Family Planning (FP) Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), sexual violence among others.

Speaking at the training, Technical Adviser, Center for Communication and Social Impact, Oluyemi Abodunri acknowledged that the media plays a powerful role in shaping public discourse and added that in the realm of women’s health media has a unique responsibility to play.

According to Abodunri, the media can bring critical attention to what he described as under-reported women’s health issues, such as maternal mortality rates, access to contraception, antenatal care attendance, availability of skilled birth attendants among others.

By using accurate and sensitive language, he affirmed that the media can frame women’s health issues as matters of public health and human rights, driving policy change and resource allocation.

Highlighting the importance of investigative journalism in reporting women’s health issues, he said: “Investigative reporting can expose inequalities in healthcare access, discrimination within the medical system, and the impact of social determinants on women’s health’’.

To him, the media can hold governments and healthcare institutions accountable for providing quality and accessible healthcare services for women.

On the other hand, he said that the media can create a platform for women’s narratives.

Explaining further, CCIS Technical Adviser said: “The media can provide a platform for women to share their own health experiences, challenges, and triumphs. This can foster empathy, understanding, and a sense of community’’.

”The media can empower women by providing information on their rights, available resources, and ways to advocate for their own health needs”.

Therefore he advised that journalists should pitch compelling stories that can frame women’s health issues in a way that connects with audience interests, highlighting human stories and solutions.

Director and Reproduction Health Coordinator, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Victoria Omoera who spoke on “Promoting women’s health: The Lagos story”, identified reproductive health issues, heart diseases, cancer and mental health issues as top concerns for women’s health.

Omoera stressed the need to empower women so they can make informed choices about their lives and their bodies.

To her, the recognition, promotion and protection of girls’ and women’s human rights are critical, both globally and at country level.

In her word: “Investing in women is not merely a moral imperative, it is an economic and societal necessity. A healthy educated woman brings about better outcomes that reverberates across generations’’.

On the effort of Lagos government towards reducing maternal and new born deaths, the director said the state established Maternal and Child Mortality Reduction Programme (MCMR) in 2008.

This she said was followed by the creation of Maternal and Child Reduction Advisory Committee in the same year to offer technical guidance on the various modalities using the national.

Enumerating some of the findings of the committee, the medical practitioner said they include the following; inadequate manpower especially doctors and midwives at all levels of care; Prevalence and high patronage of traditional birth attendants at the community level and the refusal of this body to follow approved operational guidelines.

The committee therefore, she said proposed the establishment of flagship Primary Health Center per Local Government Area /Local Council Development Area; Construction of MCCs procurement of equipment for emergency obstetric care ; procurement of essential life-saving drugs such as Oxytocin, Magnesium sulphate among others.

Similarly, she stressed the need for women to be placed at the helms of health affairs in the State to advocate for women’s health adding, ”women see the pain of fellow women, female health care providers form a significant backbone of the health work force”.

Speaking earlier, a senior programme advisor, at Pathfinders International, Sakina Amin Bello, explained that the training’s prospects focused on consolidating multilat­eral partnerships for advancing women’s health in Nigeria.

Bello described the advocacy work­shop as a ‘bridging gap’ project that would last for 12 months.

While presenting an overview of the project titled, “Strength­ening Multilevel Partnerships for ad­vancing women’s Health in Nigeria,” Bello explained that the project hopes to tackle issues on antenatal, fertility, and delivery issues.

She listed four major strategies to be adopted in the one-year project intro­duced in Lagos and Kano State to include; stakehold­ers’ engagement, advocacy accountability, political economy, and knowledge man­agement.

Highlighting the theory of change, she disclosed that: “The project goal was to ensure better maternal and newborn health policy and funding for healthier women in Lagos and Kano States.

“The intermediate outcome was strengthened advocacy and platform in Kano and Lagos States,” she disclosed’