Hassan Zaggi, the President of the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists, says the media risked it all for the good of humanity to report all issues concerning the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Zaggi said this at the opening of a three-day Annual Health Conference of ANHEJ on “COVID-19 Reportage Assessment” in Goshen City, Nasarawa State on Friday.
He said the media formed a bridge between policy makers and the public, taking the concerns of the people to government and relating the responses back to the people.
He said: “The media risked it all; it was indeed very tasking that even though a journalist cannot go out to source for information, he/she is expected to get the needed information.
“The journalist is expected to get the needed information so that the people can have the requisite knowledge on how to keep safe and be able to protect themselves from the disease.
“As it is being said that necessity is the mother of invention, we had to develop ways of getting the right information and disseminate same to the people.
“In the process of doing this, journalists, especially those covering the health sector in Nigeria, were overstretched, some even contracted the virus.
“Yes, it is pertinent to state here that aside the medical experts, journalists were those who had first hand contact with victims of COVID-19.”
Zaggi said health reporters did their best within the circumstance they found themselves working with medical and health experts, health-related government, institutions and critical stakeholders in the health sector.
He said: “They did their best to ensure that people got informed about COVID-19.
“We are still in the business of doing so, even as the good news of vaccine invention livens up the world.
“Considering that COVID-19 cases in Nigeria are on a downward trend, even though there is a global warning to be prepared for the second wave, we feel it is time to examine what we have done so far.”
The ANHEJ president said it was for this reason that members gathered to assess reportage.
Godwin Odemijie, the Chairman, ANHEJ Board, urged the journalists to engage more in investigative reporting.
Odemijie said that “during our time, we reported HIV/AIDS and we saw results, so, you need not to be discouraged now in reporting COVID-19.
“COVID-19 brought a different phase in journalism as most assignments are now virtually held, technology is also an avenue to do more.”
Moji Makanjuola, the Chief Executive Officer, International Society of Media in Public Health, commended the journalists for effective reportage of COVID-19 issues in the country.
She said: “I am happy that we have come to the realisation of mirroring ourselves so that we can do better; I hope this workshop will help to assess ourselves better and do more.”
Makanjuola urged the journalists to go indepth in their reportage of COVID-19 matters, saying: “We have done well, but you can do more.
“You can do more to project health in a sustainable way; much is required from you as health correspondents.”
ANHEJ is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation, comprising professional journalists assigned by different media organisations to cover and report activities in the country’s health sector.