IPC harps on community-driven health reporting initiatives

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Rakiya A. Muhammad

RMTIMENG—Executive Director International Press Centre (IPC), Mr Lanre Arogundade, has underscored the need for investigative and community-driven health reporting initiatives to ensure functional healthcare facilities.

He harped on data, fact and solution-driven reporting to achieve the desired impact.

IPC Wednesday released the one-month survey of health issues coverage by four Nigerian newspapers – The Punch, Daily Sun, Vanguard and Premium Times, for December 2020.

 “It is good that the concerned newspapers gave robust coverage to
health issues, particularly the Covid-19 pandemic, but there were
noticeable gaps in such areas as prominence, sources and context of
the events,” Arogundade noted.

“The fact that Covid-19 was the most covered issue during the period probably explains why the majority of the reports were derived from
events, press releases and press conferences, but what we want to see
is more investigative efforts in the reporting of accountability issues in health care service delivery.”

He said they would factor the outcome of the monitoring into the
capacity building program planned for print, broadcast and online
journalists in the South-south, South-west and South-east geo-political zones of the country.

The baseline survey and the planned training, he said, are part of the
6-month ‘Media in Health Care Accountability Project (MeHCAP) being implemented by IPC with the US Consulate General’s support in Lagos.

The IPC Executive Director explained, “this is within the context of a
strategic initiative of building and rebuilding the capacity of the
media to serve as effective catalysts of fundamental health care reforms following the weaknesses in the system exposed by the COVID-19
pandemic.”

In a statement, IPC Programme Manager Sanmi Falobi said they randomly selected the newspapers for the survey to have baseline information on the state of media reporting of health issues ahead of the training of 45 Nigerian journalists on accountability and impactful reporting of the health sector from this month.

Falobi stated that the summary of the one-month survey’s outcome
showed that while the specific issue of COVID-19 accounted for 65.7%
of the relevant reports, ’maternal health’’ had 5.3%; ‘’malaria/typhoid’’,  3% and ‘’diabetes’’ 2.4%. Coverage of ‘’Cancer’’ was 2%; ‘’public health’’, 0.9%; ‘’mental health’’, 0.48% and ‘’Other viral infections’’, 0.48%.

“In terms of prominence, majority of the reports were published on the
Inside Page (79%) followed by the Front Page (7.3%) and editorial page
(3.7%). The context of the events were “events coverage” (32.2%), “press release” (31%,) and “press conference” (12.6%), whereas “investigations’’ accounted for 13% and interviews (10.7%),” the Programme Manager added.

“Most of the sources used were ‘’Government officials’’ (28.2%); ‘’Health Professionals’’, (23.2%); ‘’Health Institutions/Authorities’’ as sources accounted for (11%); ‘’Professional Bodies’’, (5.35%); ‘’Development/Donor community’’ and ‘’CSOs’’ (5% each); ‘’Foreign
health institutions’’, (4.6%); ‘’Citizens’’, (4%,) and ‘’Other Professionals’’ (0.36%). The category “Others” was 13.2%.”

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