By Iyemah David
The International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH), has applauded journalist role in healthcare, describing health journalists as the foundation of public health in Nigeria.
Founder and Executive Director of ISMPH, Mrs Moji Makanjuola, said this in Abuja on Tuesday during a courtesy visit to her by the newly-elected executive members of the Association of Nigerian Health Journalists (ANHeJ), led by its President, Joseph Kadiri.
“In Nigeria where public health challenges like infectious diseases, maternal mortality and healthcare infrastructure deficiencies exist, the role of health journalists is particularly significant.
“Their work contributes to improving healthcare outcomes, raising awareness and advocating for better healthcare policies and services in the country,” she said.
According to her, in the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare, one group of professionals plays a pivotal but often under-appreciated role – health journalists.
Makanjuola said that their work extends far beyond the headlines as it was a lifeline of information, awareness and accountability.
The veteran health journalist said that the role of health journalists was particularly significant.
“Health journalists serve as educators, translating complex medical jargon into plain language.
“They provide Nigerians with essential information about diseases, treatments and prevention strategies.
“In a country like Nigeria where health literacy varies, their role in simplifying critical health concepts cannot be overstated,” Makanjuola said.
She said that health journalists hold a mirror to the healthcare system of the country.
“Through investigative reporting, they shine a light on issues such as inadequate healthcare infrastructure, corruption and service deficiencies.
“Their scrutiny catalyses change, pushing policy makers and institutions to address systemic problems,” she said.
She said that through their reporting, health journalists influenced health behaviour.
“They encourage vaccination, advocate for regular check-ups, and emphasise the importance of adhering to prescribed treatments.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, their messages save Nigerians by promoting preventive measures and dispelling myths,” Makanjuola said.
She said that they often championed the cause of marginalised and vulnerable populations.
“Their reporting highlights the unique health challenges faced by these groups such as those in remote areas or with limited access to healthcare. This coverage galvanises support and resources to address these disparities,” she said.
She said that by covering medial research and innovations, journalists inspired advancements in healthcare technology and treatments in the country.
“Their reporting leads to increased investment in research, benefiting public health in the long run,” she said.
Makanjuola called on the association to collaborate with the ministers of health to actualise their four-point agenda for the country.
“In Nigeria, where public health challenges persist, the work of health journalists is invaluable, so the ministers need you all to actualise their agenda.
“You all remain the storytellers, educators and watchdogs who drive improvements in healthcare, raise awareness and advocate for better policies and services,” she said.
While commending the association, she commended the association and called on the ministry and its agencies to give the necessary support to the association so that they could better inform Nigerians.
The ANHeJ had last week elected new executives, with Joseph Kadiri, a Health Correspondent of ITV as President of the association.
Kadiri was elected for a two-year term, with Rachael Abujah of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) as Vice President and Frank Ajufo of Vision FM as the Secretary.
Others are; Yecenu Sasetu of Kiss FM asTreasurer; Uche Ugochukwu of NTA as Financial Secretary; while Kazeem Biriowo of Tribune Newspapers was elected as Welfare and Public Relations Officer (PRO).