Beti Baiye and Ibukun Oguntola — The media performs a big function in how the general public responds to well being points. Mass media, print, tv, radio and web have appreciable energy, reaching a large and various viewers, elevating consciousness about points, framing how we take into consideration points and what we must be involved about. The media additionally has an vital function to play in reporting epidemics.
Well being within the Information
Earlier than the Ebola outbreak and most lately, the COVID-19 pandemic, well being safety was not topical information. When there is no such thing as a emergency, well being information barely makes the entrance web page. In a media roundtable with journalists from notable media homes in Lagos in 2019, the journalists current revealed that media homes concentrate on information that sells, which is often politics, finance, leisure or sports activities.
In 2014, well being made the entrance web page. Because of the Ebola outbreak, the Nigerian media was agog with info, offering up-to-date knowledge on the federal government’s response, educating the general public and serving to to alleviate panic and handle misinformation. A traditional instance of misinformation was the hearsay that bathing with, or ingesting salt might remedy Ebola. Information studies tracked it to a textual content message from a pupil in Nigeria and in a number of days, the hearsay was quashed throughout conventional and social media.
An evaluation of analysis research revealed on the protection of the Ebola outbreak, and COVID-19 pandemic revealed that a big proportion of media story themes have been centered on reporting the variety of instances, deaths and basic an infection preventive measures. That is commendable because the vital function the media performs in reporting epidemics can’t be over emphasised. Nevertheless, the media must transcend reporting on the response to an outbreak to discussing what should be achieved to arrange for the subsequent outbreak.
Advocating for Epidemic Preparedness
Pandemics usually are not random. Whereas this will not be the earliest point out of the topic, in 2005, Dr Fauci wrote an article titled, “Rising and Reemerging Infectious Ailments: The Perpetual Problem” the place he mentioned the numerous challenges offered by infectious ailments as new microbial threats emerge and reemerge. Right this moment we all know that new infectious ailments emerge, and outdated ailments re-emerge in new areas, so, COVID-19 won’t be the final illness outbreak that the world faces. The media due to this fact has a job to play in driving public and policymaker consciousness on the necessity for epidemic preparedness as a part of the response to any infectious illness outbreak.
When Nigeria Well being Watch’s (NHW) #PreventEpidemicsNaija venture launched in October 2018 and started advocating for elevated funding for epidemic preparedness in Nigeria, sceptics might have thought that it was akin to the case of the boy who cried wolf. With the varied urgent well being wants that required pressing consideration, why ought to the nation dedicate sources to arrange for an epidemic that may not occur? But it surely appears now the venture was future-facing.
Media engagement is a core a part of this venture and Nigeria Well being Watch has persistently engaged with journalists in a bid to empower the media to provide tales that concentrate on the necessity to put together for epidemics even earlier than they happen.
July 1st, 2021, the #PreventEpidemicsNaija venture hosted a small group of journalists for a masterclass themed: Positioning Epidemic Preparedness Funding as a Public Well being Precedence. The masterclass centered on serving to the contributors perceive the significance of writing about epidemic preparedness and response, in addition to reporting on epidemics, and the way journalists can embrace parts of epidemic preparedness that advocate for secure and sustained funding for epidemic preparedness of their articles. Funding in preparedness is price efficient in comparison with the excessive prices of responding to an epidemic, however home investments in epidemic preparedness has been persistently low.
One key takeaway from the masterclass was that the media should promote the necessity for deliberate and sustained funding in Nigeria’s well being safety as sustained and substantial funding is the primary driver of preparedness for future epidemics. Funding is essential and the media should use its attain to advocate for Nigeria to strengthen its illness prevention capacities by offering sustained funding for epidemic preparedness. Past well being, the social and financial ramifications of COVID-19 have been intensive and extreme thus, the media should not solely advocate for extra funding for epidemic preparedness, but in addition push well being safety up the political agenda, giving it the identical centered reporting that different safety points within the nation obtain. That is essential to guard the social and financial stability of the nation.
#PreventEpidemicsNaija Journalism Award
The #PreventEpidemicsNaija venture is funded by the World Well being Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), a program of the Marketing campaign for Tobacco Free Youngsters” and “Important Methods” and in 2020, the venture, as a part of its dedication to strengthening reportage round epidemic preparedness, introduced the primary version of the #PreventEpidemicsNaija Journalism Award. On the ceremony, 4 journalists have been celebrated for his or her excellent reportage on elevating consciousness on epidemic preparedness and illness outbreaks in Nigeria. In a number of months, we’ll open nominations for the 2021 version of the awards, and we sit up for receiving entries from eligible journalists who’ve been intentional about going past reporting on the response to advocating for higher preparedness.
What the Media Ought to do
The media performed a essential function in offering up-to-date details about COVID-19 and Nigeria’s response to the pandemic as newsrooms throughout the nation made pandemic protection a precedence. This momentum must be sustained, and each alternative taken to report on and spotlight Nigeria’s capacity to answer and put together for future infectious illness threats, if adequately funded.
Future epidemics might surpass earlier outbreaks and the media could be a part of the answer by continually reminding us that our security is assured solely when the federal government, policymakers and different related stakeholders present sustained and substantial funding for epidemic preparedness in Nigeria.