By Franca Ofili
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ) have done a lot in the area of educating, mobilising, and creating awareness on COVID-19 to Nigeria populace.
The Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr Walter Mulombo,, said this in Auta Balefi, Nasarawa State on Thursday.
Mulombo, who was represented by Ms Charity Warigon, said this at the 2nd Annual Conference of ANHEJ with theme ”Improving confidence in COVID-19 Vaccine”
He said that health journalists that covered COVID 19 had proved their capability and did invaluable work over the years, which made the difference in helping people to make informed decisions and positive choices to promote their health.
He said that the conference was timely and apt, as it did not only speak to the present but also to the future of making Nigerians healthier.
“Journalists 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.
Mulombo said that COVID-19 pandemic, unlike any pandemic in history, has affected everyone and every country in a manner unexpected.
He said that although there had been calls and available support to nations to build their health systems and security in preparation for future outbreaks.
“In the earlier phases of the pandemic, there was the absence of sufficient knowledge to inform the development of vaccines as the sciences were limited, which were exploited by mischief makers, through what we call, infodemics,” Mulombo said.
He urged the media to build and maintain trust, that would help to provide information that shapes the behaviour and lives of generations of peoples the world over.
“The media and journalists are the bridge between scientists and the public.
“Journalists as social responsibility should ensure the provision of accurate, timely, credible, understandable, relevant, and actionable information through various communication channels.
“Our messaging must continue to remind the public that, for the foreseeable future, we must continue to wear masks, physically distance, and avoid the crowd.
“Being vaccinated does not mean that we can throw caution to the wind and put ourselves and others at risk.
“We must know that relaxing public health and social measures interventions should be done cautiously and with careful attention paid to those who remain unvaccinated,” he said.
According to him, WHO remains resolute in sustaining this mutually beneficial partnership with AHNEJ, towards promoting health and wellbeing, keeping the world safe.
The President of ANHEJ, Mr Hassan Zaggi, called on the Federal Government to always make available the necessary information that journalists need for their reportage.
Zaggi said that health journalists in Abuja were gathered to work out strategies on how they could ensure that Nigerians take the COVID-19 jab.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)