Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, has announced a special “Stay at Home” Media award to recognise journalists reporting Coronavirus Disease in Africa.
Dr. Rasha Kelej, Chief Executive Officer of Merck Foundation, said in a statement that the award, in collaboration with African First Ladies, was to encourage the media to be creative and effective in raising awareness and sensitising communities on COVID-19.
Kalej said the award was to inspire journalists to sensitise communities on how to stay safe and keep physically and mentally healthy during the lockdown.
According to him, Merck Foundation is working with First Ladies of Africa to raise awareness about Coronavirus and how to stay safe and healthy.
He said the foundation had been collaborating with First Ladies in some Africa countries to announce the call for applications for their “Stay at Home” Media Recognition Awards.
The countries are Ghana, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Namibia, Niger, Guinea Conakry, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Zimbabwe, Zambia, The Gambia, Liberia and Congo Brazzaville.
The theme of the awards is: “Raising Awareness on how to Stay Safe and keep Physically and Mentally Healthy during Coronavirus Lockdown.”
The statement said: “This unsettling period due to the coronavirus scare is difficult for everyone – both physically and mentally while most countries are under complete lockdown or restricted movement, people do not know how to handle this situation.
“Social Distancing is our Social Responsibility and the only way to kill Coronavirus, however, it will take a lot of courage and discipline to practice it.
“Taking good care of your mental and physical health is important during this period. So, we decided to initiate these awards in order to reward the journalists.
“To reward journalists who are raising awareness in most effective and creative way on how to keep safe and keep physically and mentally healthy during to his phase.”
According to Kelej, all the journalists from Print, Online, Radio and Multimedia Platforms from English speaking, French speaking, Arabic speaking and Portuguese speaking African countries are invited to send their entries for the awards.
He said: “The most creative and influential media work aiming to raise awareness and sensitising communities about this alarming topic at a regular basis will be eligible to win these awards.
“We have created four categories for Africa: English, French, Portuguese and Arabic speaking countries.
“Merck Foundation will extend the awards to include Middle Eastern, Latin America and Asian Countries in the next few days to involve all media across the global South.
“Since most of the people are confined to their homes, they are spending a lot of time reading and listening to news through different platforms.
“Media professionals, it is your time to help the people to take care good care of their mental and physic al health during these disturbing times, through your creative, informational and motivational work.
“You can guide them to adjust to their new and different routine and rhythm of life.”
He said the last of submission of entries would be on June 30, 2020.