• Thursday, June 13, 2024
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NCDC, partners launch media fellowship to improve public health information

NCDC, partners launch media fellowship to improve public health information

As part of efforts to improve public health information coverage, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in conjunction with partners has launched a media fellowship programme for journalists in the country.

The media epidemiology, infodemiology and social behaviour change/risk communication is a fellowship that is open to media professionals in Nigeria reporting on health matters on print, television, radio and online platforms.

The other partners involved include the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Breakthrough Action, Nigeria and African Field Epidemiology Network (AFENET) in the first edition of the media fellowship programme.

Speaking while unveiling the programme which was joined by health reporters across the country through zoom meeting, Ifedayo Adetiba, the Director-General of NCDC said the scheme was launched to strengthen health reporting in the country in the training of journalists to “report more accurately and responsibility thereby contributing to effective management of infectious diseases in the country.’’

“We recognise that communication is essential to carry along the public that we serve and to make sure of their understanding and cooperation. All of the efforts that we are implementing or putting in place to look after the environment , animals and human health would not work because it needs the cooperation of the public and the citizens

“And it is this gap that NCDC and other partners are trying to fill by implementing this unique media fellowship. The media play a very important role in magnifying the messages that we need to go out and forward behavioural change of Nigerians irrespective of the social economic standing of the citizens and irrespective of the platforms.

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“Diphtheria has been around since December and we expect more cases to arise in different parts of the country. This is related to historical gaps in vaccination coverage. Rather than focusing on the headline of the reemergence disease, causing havoc, it is important that the same headline be followed by detailed discussion around the underlying factors such as lower vaccination coverage and people not taking up vaccines, vaccines that are routinely available on the recommended childhood immunisation schedule. Let that be the correct message. These are highly effective tools that can prevent death and suffering that are not just being taken up by a large segment of the population,” he said.

He lauded the partners for their support and their readiness to ensure national health security in the country adding that recent outbreaks of diseases in the country had posed significant challenges to media professionals and the people as “many did not have the background knowledge to understand all the information that was being thrown at them hence the need to make sure they are better equipped in future.

Elizabeth Adedire, representative of AFENET, described the training programme as a laudable one saying it would ensure a healthy and happier society. According to her, several training programmes have been supported by her organisation and pledged the commitment of AFENET to support the media fellowship programme.

“The COVID-19 outbreak revealed a lot of gaps in our public health communication, we have all manners of infodemic, to be able address this properly, I see that it is very important for us to be able to train journalists, this training will help us improve on public health communication and be able to tackle different pandemics,we are happy to support the training of the media professionals in epidemiology,’’ she said.