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March 1, 2024
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Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ)

Expert calls for media collaboration to combat silent epidemic

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By Franca Ofili

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has called for media collaboration to combat the silent epidemic in Nigeria.

Dr Chavan Laxmikant, Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) expert, made the call during his presentation at the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ) 7th Annual Conference with the theme, “Health Security: Nigeria’s Efforts to Achieve Universal Health Coverage”.

Laxmikant said that the media had an important role to play in raising awareness about the silent epidemic.

He urged journalists to collaborate in disseminating accurate information, advocating for responsible reporting, and playing a key role in shaping public perception.

Dr Olayiwola Olanike, Technical Officer, Vaccine Preventable Diseases Cluster (VPD), WHO, said during his virtual presentation that the media also play an important role in the sustainability of health practices in the country.

Olanike, with a background in public and environmental health emphasised the need for a comprehensive approach to address health determinants, ranging from environmental sustainability to community engagement.

According to him, there is a need for multi-sectoral policies, disaster planning, and inclusive programmes to ensure the achievement of universal health coverage.

Olanike stressed the connectivity between health and the environment, and called for a shift towards low-carbon solutions and a focus on prevention and control of diseases.

He also shared insight into ongoing initiatives, such as the “Unlocking Economy” programme, aimed at fostering sustainable development and improving healthcare access.

The UN Stress Counsellor, Mr Michael Onotu, whose presentation focused on “ Preventing Strategies for Common Mental Health Conditions and Media Reportage with Empathy Experience Sharing, highlighted the crucial role that understanding common mental health issues play in producing effective reports.

According to him, framing reports do not only engage the audience but also offer potential solutions to the challenges individuals may be facing.

He suggested that incorporating mental health knowledge into reporting can make the information more compelling and actionable.

“The presentation delves into real-life scenarios and shedding light on the impact of economic struggles on individuals’ mental well-being.

“It narrates stories of financial pressures leading to psychological problems and explores the far-reaching consequences, such as individuals resorting to risky behavior to cope with their circumstances.

“The presentation is aimed to foster an interactive discussion,” he said.

Onotu urged the media to share their experiences and engage in a collective dialogue about mental health challenges.

He called on the leaders to acquire knowledge in mental health and reflect the interconnectedness between individual well-being and societal progress.

“The leaders need to invest in mental health understanding.

“There is a need for a proactive approach to addressing mental health issues at both individual and national levels,” he said.

Onotu called for awareness creation, promotion of dialogue and offering of practical solutions as part of strategies needed to deal with mental health challenges.

The workshop outlined the challenges posed by AMR to include increased healthcare costs and the potential for 10 million annual deaths by 2050, while emphasising the need for urgent action.

Media partnership was underscored as a crucial element in the fight against AMR, with a call to increase coverage frequency, fact-checking, and responsible reporting, to build a well-informed society.

The workshop concluded with a plea for active media involvement in creating a healthier future by combating AMR through accurate information dissemination and collaboration with key stakeholders. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)

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Edited by Emmanuel Afonne

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