Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Sexuality Conference: Collaborative partnership with the media enjoined

The ignorance of journalists and the unwillingness of healthcare providers to provide the necessary information due to the bureaucratic procedures have been described as the major obstacle to the effective reporting on sexual health and rights issues in Nigeria particularly and in Africa as a whole.

Reporting this observation yesterday in a presentation titled Online Voices: Enhancing the capacity of Nigerian health journalists in reproductive health, STIs and HIV/AIDS at the concurrent session 1 of the 3rd Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights, Nnenna Ike of the Development Communications Network (Devcoms) Lagos reported that the SciPH Journalism Forum was the instrument used in this qualitative research.

The SciPH Journalism Forum with a member strength of 206 journalists from showed through an e-discussion that the barriers to the effective reporting of reproductive and sexual health and rights also include miscommunication by healthcare personnel, perceptions of researchers to publicity, and research funding politics.

To ensure that the media play their expected role well, organized training and retraining of journalists should be a continuous activity in Nigeria. This training must be in the form of mentorship by experienced/veteran health educators, the establishment and maintenance of a link between journalists and healthcare personnel and most importantly having an immersion programme where journalists are embedded in health establishment for a short period of time so that they can understudy the issues involved in the running of the centre. This will ensure that when they make their reports, it is from an informed perspective.

African journalists especially those practicing in Nigeria should be empowered either physically or online. The development partners who are already doing this were enjoined to spread the training amongst both the experienced and the greenhorn journalists to achieve the desired state of reporting sexual health and rights issues. Ike recommended commitment to media personnel development by corporate health organization, more civil society-media dialogue.

* By Nnenna Ike

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