By Franca Ofili
The Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN), an NGO, has advocated for the reactivation of bi-monthly engagement with the media to discuss and inform Nigerians about developments in the health sector.
Dr Aminu Magashi, Coordinator of the network, made the call in Abuja on Thursday when the newly elected members of the executive of the Association of Nigerian Health Journalists (ANHEJ) paid him a courtesy visit.
Magashi said that the practice is one that enhances feedback with the populace as well as engenders accountability.
“The bi-monthly briefing was introduced by the ministry of health in partnership with AHBN, providing a platform for update on developments around efforts to contain COVID-19 and Lassa Fever.
“Others are routine immunisation coverage, reproductive health initiatives,” he said.
Magashi said there was need to sustain the gains of the bi-monthly media interaction where the ministers, the permanent secretary, heads of departments and agencies and all relevant stakeholders would be involved.
He said that the network signed an agreement with the ministry of health to support the bimonthly press briefing.
“The last two years, we have been supporting the bimonthly press briefing at the ministry of health.
“Stakeholders will gather every two weeks or every month to provide updates of what is going on in the health sector.
“Engaging the media on a quarterly basis has become productive and at the same time very useful to Nigerians whereby we know what is going on in every aspect of our healthcare system.
“The platform have become a transparent and accountable process where ministers provide update and the CEOs of the health sector.”
“I think it’s important to revive that press briefing with the coordinating minister of health, the minister of state, and special assistant to the president on health, to provide updates,” he said.
Magashi said that when political players discuss with the media in the bimonthly meetings, indirectly, Nigerians would be abreast of health issues.
He gave kudos to President Bola Tinubu for his initiative of adding the social welfare arm to the ministry, which according to him, will better the health outcomes for Nigerians.
According to him, welfare plays a big role in the wellness of the populace.
Mr Oyeyemi Pitan, Engagement and Partnership Lead of AHBN, gave a collaborative effort going on with CSOs, youth, and media in monitoring the implementation of all government commitments to the health.
Pitan called on all stakeholders to be involved in developing a collaborative advocacy action plan to ensure commitments are of good quality and implemented promptly.
“The role of media in this is key and we trust you are with us to ensure our advocacy messages get to the right quarters.” She said.
Earlier, the President of ANHEJ, Mr Joseph Kadiri, thanked the network for its steadfast support through the years.
Kadiri pledged the new leadership’s readiness to work closely with the network to provide visibility for their work. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Abiemwense Moru/JuliusToba-Jegede