Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Nigeria's science and health coverage needs a boost in the media

Science is the bedrock of professions like medicine, engineering, and agriculture, on which the quality of our life is anchored. Since all scientists and media practitioners share the vision of a better life for our people, we have a responsibility in ensuring that the general population receive simple and understandable scientific information that could be important for their welfare.

At the round table last week between journalists and the Nigerian Academy of Science on “Assessment of Science Reporting in Nigeria,’ participants critiqued the current state of science journalism by examining research reporting in Nigeria. The roundtable reviewed the climate change phenomenon in Nigeria, ensuring effective collaboration between the Nigerian media and the Nigerian Academy of Science. The vibrant discussion also focused on how people can become better informed on advances in science and technology.

Presently, science reports and news are ineffectively covered in the print and electronic media, both in absolute terms and in comparison to the coverage given to literature and other liberal arts. Though scientists have a traditional avenue for communicating their research findings, which usually includes publishing their studies in appropriate scientific or professional journals, the roundtable enjoined them to adopt the media as also an effective way of passing across their research findings to the general populace who need the knowledge.

In the same vein, the mass media, the mass media needs to fine-tune their role of linking the scientist to the general public. A commendable lot has been done in this regard but there is still need for improvement. Science information should be regarded as an important element of public information on issues of vital importance to the population.

The roundtable commended the attempts being made by some organizations to improve the reportage of science; the Nigeria Academy of Science, Development Communications Network and the Association of Science Journalist were commended for their strive to increase the level of reporting of scientific activities by scientific organizations, to report scientific advances made in the country, and to initiate public debates on the ethics of scientific studies reported by our scientists.

By Pelumi Olukoya

No comments: