By Dan-Maryam Zayamu
Plans have been concluded for medical experts, veteran journalists and other critical stakeholders in the health sector to converge and assess the efforts of the Nigerian media, especially, those covering the health sector, on how effective they reported Covid-19 pandemic.
The meeting which was put together by the Association of Nigerian Health Journalists (ANHEJ) was christened: “COVID-19 Reportage Assessment Meeting,”
A statement signed by the ANHEJ President, Hassan Zaggi, noted that the theme of the meeting is apt, “considering the sudden emergence of the virus and the efforts by media professionals to stay afloat the pandemic by providing relevant information to the masses, their stand as opinion leaders to shape behavioural change patterns, ensure safety from the virus, demand accountability from government, guarantee that Coronavirus does not over ride other life threatening health concerns, as well for citizens have access to healthcare services.”
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, is expected to deliver the key note address titled: ‘X-raying media activities during COVID-19 pandemic- FMOH’s perspective
“It is no longer news the COVID-19 Pandemic disrupted activities in all sectors including the health and media sectors globally. “Global leaders. governments and captains of industries have continued to grapple with strategies to limit the impact.
“Caught between right to safety, passion, fear, emotions and obligations to employers constantly demanding news content, Nigerian health reporters have continued to show resilience in upholding tenets of the profession to constantly educate and inform the masses on extent of the disease, monitor global COVID-19 infections and recoveries, vaccine production, and most importantly, the need to adhere strictly to laid down protocols to contain spread of the virus,” the statement noted
The statement further said that: “Although the number of reported cases in Nigeria is showing a downward trend, there have been projections of a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic which is already forcing some developed countries especially in Europe and the United States of America, to reinstitute lockdown and stringent measures for containment.
“More worrisome is the realities that majority of Nigerians have continued to live in denial of the COVID-19 pandemic, as seen in the flagrant display of non compliance to the COVID-19 protocols of hand washing, use of face mask and social distancing in public places.”
ANHEJ lamented that fake news, lack of media trust, ignorance, myths and misconception may have played a role in the perception of Nigerians towards the virus.
Assessment of the media’s coverage of the pandemic by key stakeholders in the health sector and the media circle, the statement said, may hold the key to preventing this dreaded second wave of Coronavirus in Nigeria.