Journalists discuss challenges of health reporting in Nigeria

Nigerian journalists in an interview session[Photo: The Standard]
Nigerian journalists in an interview session[Photo: The Standard]

Journalists reporting health in Nigeria need to significantly improve their skills set so that they can present their reports in a way the public can easily understand, players in the sector have advised.

They gave the advice on Tuesday in Abuja at an event held to celebrate the efforts of some outgoing lawmakers in driving progress in the health sector.

Themed, “The 8th Assembly and Nigeria’s Health Sector: Reviewing Progress, Looking Forward”, the event was organised by the Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage in partnership with other organisations working on health.

The stakeholders said lack of understanding of health-related issues had negatively affected health information disseminated to the public.

Martins Ifijeh, the health correspondent for THISDAY newspaper, said he was worried by the poor knowledge and understanding of critical issues and development in the sector among journalist.

He said there is a knowledge and communication gap between journalists and critical stakeholders in the health sector.

During a technical session shortly before the main event, the journalist was asked to explain the challenges in reporting health issues in Nigeria.

Not carried Along

Mr Ifijeh said journalists are not engaged properly on health-related issues. “We are mostly called to report from the point of implementation.”

Veteran journalist and broadcaster with the Nigerian Television Authority, Moji Makanjuola, advised journalists covering health to assert themselves on the beat.

“You need to read thoroughly, engage and network with health experts. You also have to find a way to make your story as simple as possible for public consumption”, said Mrs Makanjuola.

Advertisement

nlng Campaign AD

She said health reporters have to find a way to connect with their readers and viewers by humanising stories even when they are scientific and data-driven.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified the media as a major player in the quest for Universal Health Coverage.

With that potential, it is important for reporters to have background knowledge of medical science – its languages, topics and processes – so as to prevent being misled by unfamiliar claims and assertions, experts said.

According to an essay published by The Conversation, individual anecdotes such as inserting a personal account of patients, victims and others are tools journalists can use to promote audience understanding of complex health issues.

Some medical experts who spoke during Tuesday’s session agreed that reporters should be engaged and trained often on health-related issues.

Oladapo Ladipo of the Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH) said organisations, policymakers and government agencies in the health sector should not engage the press only when they want to issue press releases.

“The press should also be engaged on how to report health at least three times in a year”, said Mr Ladipo, a professor.

To wrap up the session, Olanrewaju Tejuoso, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, stressed the importance of the media in the progress of the health sector.

Mr Tejuoso said health reporters also should personally develop their skills and knowledge.

Advertisement

PT Mag Campaign AD

Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility

Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.

Donate


NEVER MISS A THING AGAIN! Subscribe to our newsletter

* indicates required

DOWNLOAD THE PREMIUM TIMES MOBILE APP

Now available on

  Premium Times Android mobile applicationPremium Times iOS mobile applicationPremium Times blackberry mobile applicationPremium Times windows mobile application

TEXT AD: This space is available for a Text_Ad.. Call Willie on +2347088095401 for more information


All rights reserved. This material and any other material on this platform may not be reproduced, published, broadcast, written or distributed in full or in part, without written permission from PREMIUM TIMES.