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WHO tasks health reporters on continuous reportage to tackle COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

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..as stakeholder calls for funding to ensure post COVID-19 socio economic recovery

By Joyce Remi- Babayeju

The World Health Organization, WHO, Nigeria Country Representative, Dr. Walther Molumba has tasked members of the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists, ANHEJ, not to relent in their continuous reportage to tackle the COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Nigeria.
WHO, Head of Communication Unit at the Nigeria Country Office, Ms Charity Warrigon who represented Dr. Molumba made this call today at a 2 Day Annual Conference with the theme: Improving Confidence in COVID-19 Vaccine in Nigeria Beyond 2021: The Role of the Media’ organized by ANHEJ at Auta Ballefi,Nasarawa State.
While commending the doggedness of health reporters at the break of COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria Warrigon said that the conference with the theme, “Improving confidence in COVID-19 Vaccine”. This theme is timely and apt, as it not only speaks to the present, but also to the future of making Nigerians healthier.
She noted that the pandemic which has affected everyone and every country in a manner unexpected, also came with the challenge of absence of sufficient knowledge to inform development of vaccines as the sciences were limited, which were exploited by mischief makers, through what we call, infodemics.

She therefore called on the media to be resolute in building and maintaining trust as the profession is one out of a few that have historically been proven to be trusted to provide information that shape the behavior and lives of generations of peoples the world over.
“The media and journalists are the bridge between scientists and the public. It behoves on every member of the Fourth Realm of the Estate to, as social responsibility, ensure the provision of accurate, timely, credible, understandable, relevant, and actionable information through various communication channels.”

According to her the Nigerian media and Journalists in the face of challenges have proven to be highly professional by rising to the test of the COVID-19 hesitancy by educating, mobilizing, and creating awareness amongst the populace.
This she credited to invaluable work done by ANHEJ over the years in help in helping people make informed decisions and positive choices to promote their health.

We can only improve on what we have achieved so far and even do better, as there is so much to attain in driving confidence in the vaccination effort by building trust and continuously being a trusted and reliable source, she emphasized.
She called for continuous public remainder that, for the foreseeable future, people must continue to wear masks, physically distance, and avoid crowd. Being vaccinated doesn’t mean that we can throw caution to the wind and put ourselves and others at risk.
The Coordinator of the Africa Health Budget Network, AHBN, Dr. Aminu Magashi Garba in presentation titled” Nigeria’s COVID-19 Funding and Recovery Plan: The Place of the Media” called for increased budget to ensure recovery from the pandemic which is a multi-faceted and far reaching into our socio-economic fabric which includes social protection programmes, job creation and the building of social infrastructure like roads, access to water/sanitation, and electrification schemes.
Magashi who was represented by Dr. Obinna Onuoha, the Senior Programme and Partnership Officer of AHBN, said, ” With all efforts underway towards recovery from COVID-19 the Media stands front line and center in ensuring that all Nigerians are well informed with the facts : what findings have been received and from whom, what plans from government are in place to utilize these funds to provide quality health, what are the checks and balances to ensure these dedicated funds offer value for money, what are the steps taken to ensure all concerned parties are held accountable in the disbursement and utilization of these funds, what are the feedback mechanisms from the beneficiaries of these health intervention.
He stressed that health reporters are entrusted with the responsibility of providing these answers health budget through factual,verified and timely information, adding that every COVID-19 funding and recovery plan touches the lives of all Nigerians.
He further called on the media to ask questions on recovery plan
to elicit transparency and mutual accountability.

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