By Sunday Oyinloye
The Federal Ministry of Health yesterday in Abuja engaged with the media to sensitize Journalists on the operationalization of the media engagement strategy for health promotion in Nigeria 2021-2025.
The maiden Media Engagement Strategy for Health Promotion in Nigeria 2021-2025 is a blueprint articulating how the Health Promotion Division of the Federal Ministry of Health would work with appropriate media organisations that would effectively disseminate health information to Nigerians in all parts of the country.
The Media Engagement Strategy for Health Promotion in Nigeria is supposed to address inadequate utilization of media platforms for dissemination of health-related information to the public
The overall objective is to foster a closer relationship between the media and the Ministry so that Journalists would have more access to information that could be passed to Nigerians to be able take informed decision on public health issues and healtyliving.
In her welcome remarks, the Director Family Health Department Dr. Salma Ibrahim Anas represented by the Director Health Promotion Division, Ladidi Bako-Aiyegbusi said the goal of the 2019 National Health Promotion Policy is to empower the Nigerian populace to take timely actions in disease prevention; improving their health and wellbeing as well as take measures that ensure a healthy society.
She however noted that the achievement of this goal can only be possible if health promotion interventions are directed at improving health literacy and promotion of healthy choices.
Anas who stressed the importance of the media in creating awareness on issues of public interest disclosed that available evidence shows that there is inadequate utilization of media platforms for dissemination of health-related information to the public
According to her, “To change this situation, the Family Health Department, Health Promotion Division in collaboration with key actors in media sector, developed the maiden Media Engagement Strategy for Health Promotion in Nigeria 2021-2025 to highlight the roles and expectations of the media in creating visibility for the Ministry’s activities.’’
The Director of Health Promotion Division, Ladidi Bako-Aiyegbusi who made an overview of the Media Engagement strategy disclosed that the strategy was conceptualized as a document on how her Division would work effectively with the media to institutionalize the usage of traditional and social media for the purposes of dissemination of health related information to Nigerians so as to reduce the burden of disease through behavioral and lifestyle changes.
Ladidi said attaining a healthy society requires effective repositioning and institutionalization of health promotion to make “fit-for-purpose and respond to emergencies’’
She explained that hitherto, media-covered activities happen on a case by case basis, stressing that the emergence of the social media, misinformation and fake news on public health issues further justifies the need to define the mode of operation of the media sector engagement.
Ladidi also disclosed that the Ministry is putting in place a Media Hub that would further enhance the relationship between the Media and the Ministry and also makes it easier for data and other information to be accessible to Journalists.
On her part, Mrs. D. Jokodola made a presentation on the Ministry’s media implementation plan.
A Resource person at the meeting who is the Executive Director of International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH) Moji Makanjuola stressed the importance of constant media engagement by the Ministry against the background of the infiltration of the media space by non-professionals who have been misinforming unsuspecting members of the public on health-related issues.
Another Resource person, Yusuf Ali said Journalists should have access to information from the ministry unhindered. Ali who is the Managing Editor, Northern Operations of The Nation Newspaper explained that it is in the interest of the Ministry and the nation at large for media practitioners to be able to get information and necessary data to work with, a point which was re-echoed by two other Resource persons, Ambassador Chukwuemeka Okereafor and Dr. Garbar Magashi.
Earlier in her remarks, Mrs. Stella Jibrin of Nigerian Press Council described the Media Engagement Strategy for Health Promotion in Nigeria-2021-2025 as a good development and a tool that would help the media and the Ministry of Health.
She said the Council would continue to serve as buffer between the media, government and the public by ensuring the maintenance of the highest ethical and professional standards in the media.
A seven-member steering committee was later constituted to bridge the gap between the between the Ministry and the media.