Media experts and trainers have urged journalists to focus more on reporting other health issues as much as they do the COVID-19 pandemic.
They gave the advice during the just-concluded two-day workshop on “Investigative Healthcare Reporting” organised in Abeokuta, Ogun State, by the International Press Centre (IPC) with the support of the United States Consulate General, Lagos.
The workshop held on Wednesday and Thursday with firstnewsonline.ng represented by a reporter as one of the attendees.
Speaking at the event, the Director of Development Communication Network, Akinlabi Jimoh, enjoined reporters to look into other health-related issues neglected since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
According to Jimoh, who presented a paper at the workshop on “Media Accountability and Healthcare Governance,” “The media must serve as a watchdog and hold authorities to account. Health issues affect everyone and for this reason, reporters must monitor, evaluate and be vigilant enough to dig deep on all issues relating to health like we are doing about COVID-19.
“Reporters should work on health budget monitoring and you should not limit yourself because you are not a medical practitioner. We need to start looking for neglected issues, report them and publish in the right mediums.”
On his part, IPC Executive Director, Mr Lanre Arogundade, charged journalists on the need to scale up their games in creating awareness and campaigns on health-related issues.
Arogundade said, “A monitoring analysis by the IPC reveals that the media needs to go beyond reporting of press releases, but equip journalists or the newsroom with capacity building to uncover the stories in the health sector and hold the government accountable to the people.
“The capacity of health reporters and editors should be strengthened to conduct investigative health reporting, especially on vaccine distribution, recent outbreak of cholera and the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic, including budgeting and budget tracking, compliance with framework for accountability and transparency in the health sector.
“The media should regularly engage governance with the tools that are readily available such as Freedom of Information Act (FOI) as well as enhancing its capacity in fact checking journalism so as to protect public interest.”
US Acting Consul General, Stephen Ibelli, urged the media “to always cover true facts and keep society informed, using media workshops to hold authorities to account.”