Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Journalists commit to saving women and children’s lives

Press Release:

Journalists commit to saving women and children’s lives

Lagos, Nigeria: Nigerian journalists have decried the needless deaths of Nigerian women and children in the course of child birth and debilitating child health services in the country. At the conclusion of a two day capacity building on ‘policy analysis for budget tracking of MDGs 4 & 5’, the senior editors and correspondents from 20 media organizations called on government to ensure that the health of mothers and children are made a priority in the implementation of health programs in the country.

The training, organized by Development Communications (DEVCOMS) Network, winner ONE Africa Award, 2008 under the aegis of the Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ), is DEVCOMS initiative in fulfilling the Ford Foundation supported project on “Strengthening mass media advocacy on improved national responses to the poor maternal health situation in Nigeria.

Akin Jimoh, Program Director of DEVCOMS Network, says it became necessary to organise the training for journalists since they are the ones who are the voice of the people, and at present the only hope of the common man. He asserts; “lots of funds are allocated every year by governments at all levels in Nigeria for health related issues, but much of the impacts are hardly seen nor felt”. Jimoh enunciates that the high rate of maternal, newborn and child mortality in Nigeria, could be reduced appreciably to a reasonable ebb if funds allotted for Primary Health Centres, drugs and other health challenges are judiciously used for the purpose for which they were released. This also echoes the aim of the ONE Award 2008, which Devcoms is the flagbearer in Africa.

NUJ Chairman Lagos State Chapter, Wahab Oba descries the training as a “wonderful opportunity that equips journalists to appraise budget from formulation to monitoring its implementation as well as evaluating the performance of government’s yearly budget. With the skills acquired we will now be able to monitor the growth and development in the country in achieving the MDGs and other key areas.”

In the same vein a facilitator at the training Emeka Nsofor, of Human Supports Services said that government world-over are being held accountable for the way they appropriate the people’s funds in their custody. Nsofor said it is high time the media in Nigeria, set the agenda of holding governments at all levels accountable for the funds/revenue they generate.

Also buttressing his views on the necessity of budget tracking, Kayode Iyalla one of the speakers during the training notes that since budget statements are fiscal policies, it is pertinent journalists know why policies fail in Nigeria. He stressed that policies ought to be deliberate plans of action, selected to achieve definite needs and goals. But “the reason why many policies do not succeed in the country is because they are not formulated as a result of the needs of the people,” he says.

Many of the journalists at the training said the programme was really an eye opener. Adekunle Yusuf, Senior Writer at Tell Magazine says “this training is highly beneficial and would aid in giving depth to whatever story we do concerning development issues in our work.” The participants pledged ensuring to give the news behind the figures, rather than just statistics which do not give the audience the true picture of governments spending as may have been proposed. The media professionals in attendance who represented all spheres of the media in Nigeria came up with ‘A call to action’ which was duly signed by all of them.

The media training on policy analysis and budget tracking of MDGs 4 & 5 organised by DEVCOMS network is the second in a series. The first was held for 22 journalists in May, 2009 at Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.

DEVCOMS network, is a pace setter in media development especially capacity building in public health and science journalism in Nigeria.

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