By Aluta News
December 25, 2021
Health Reporters: NPHCDA rewards outstanding Journalists on COVID-19, Polio eradication in Nigeria
The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) has recognized and rewarded journalists across Nigeria who have distinguished themselves in reporting the COVID-19 pandemic and the eradication of the wild Polio Virus in the country.
Speaking during the award ceremony Executive Director, NPHCDA, Dr Faisal Shuaib, lauded Nigerian journalists for their contribution in sensitising Nigerians especially through the trying times of the COVID-19 pandemic and the eradication of wild polio.
“It gives me a lot of pleasure to be here today, and for me, it has been a dream come through. In terms of having the opportunity to interact with members of the media who have done such an incredible job especially in the last two years.
“I remember when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country. There was a lot of misconception when it comes to the issue of vaccination there was a lot of misinformation and when we did an initial survey before the vaccine arrived Nigeria, 60 to 70 per cent of the respondents were undecided or said they would not take the vaccine. Now, because of the work which you all do, only about 20 to 30 per cent are unsure of receiving the vaccine. We organised this media engagement to say ‘thank you’ for the outstanding work that you have done.
“I did not know how challenging it is to be a journalist until I got into this position as the executive director. I have engaged with many journalists to the extent that I can call some my friends. I have seen the honesty, commitment, dedication to your work; so much that the moment I see text messages from some of you, I know that you are asking these questions for the sake of Nigeria.
“You ask questions because you are passionate about doing your work, about doing the right thing. You are trying not to get news for the sake of it but because you know that by sharing correct information, we can work together towards getting to the pathway of development that will ensure that Nigeria occupies er place in the comity of nations,” he explained .
Shauib commended journalists for their jobs well done.
“We have done a lot of things in the last one and-a half years, but we couldn’t have done it without your support and collaboration. A lot of you are more than journalists, some of you are cheerleaders but you are the ones that encouraged us when things appeared difficult.
“When a lot of Nigerians hesitate about taking the vaccine, a number of you volunteered to take the COVID-19 vaccine and have been very strong advocates for the vaccination around the country and, because of the leadership that you have shown, Nigerians are now coming out to take the vaccine because they say ‘this media has lived with us and they understand us. If they are taking the vaccine that means the vaccine is safe’,” he stressed.
In his remarks, the Director For Disease , Control and Immunisation, Dr. Bassey Okposen said: “As a country we know when the pandemic started, we have little knowledge on how to get the vaccine because locally it was scarce but I saw you the journalist at the headquarters this year they spoke of enough vaccine and we have enough vaccine today in Nigeria.
“We want to sincerely appreciate the journalists for all the great work that you are doing. This is the reason we are here to appreciate you for all the good work you are doing to support the COVID-19 vaccination in the country.
“We want to make use of this opportunity to say that we have some vaccines that will expire this December and we have those that will expire by January. Nigerians should be assured that the doses of the vaccines we have will not expire before they get to the people.”
Responding on behalf of the journalists, the chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Abuja Chapter, Mr. Emmanuel Ogbeche, commended the NPHCDA for initiating an annual event to recognise and reward journalists, noting that the event would motivate journalists to put in their best in reporting on issues around health.
“I welcome the idea of an award to journalists that not only risk their lives daily but also face the hazards while covering the activities of all the health agencies and the ministry. This will motivate the journalists,” Ogbeche added.
Earlier, the head, public relations unit (PRU), NPHCDA, Mr. Mohammad Ohitoto, thanked the journalists for doing an excellent job.
“I especially thank the ED for initiating this year’s award by NPHCDA, indeed the NPHCDA award is great. The NPHCDA media 2021 is a big opportunity given to us to improve our work.
“I appeal that you consider making this award ceremony target at our media men/women that have shown commitment in the practice and have done the right thing the right way at the right time so that it will be a yearly award,” he stated.
Meanwhile,Ms Racheal Abujah, Snr Health Correspondent, News Agency of Nigeria(NAN), who was awarded as one of the outstanding reporter for 2021, thanked NPHCDA for its incredible award, noting she would strive to be worthy of such an honor, and the NPHCDA belief in her.
Abujah added that Journalists were as vicarious first responders. While she broke down in tears, noted that those tears were just one sign of the trauma being experienced by journalists covering the COVID-19 pandemic or other outbreaks both in the field and in the newsroom.
She added that trauma can lead to mental health challenges.
“You can’t really cover a story very well from isolation or self-quarantine. The health risks are primary because journalists are experiencing what everybody else is experiencing in terms of social distancing, self-isolating, quarantining. But it’s particularly intense for journalists because they have to put those risks aside in order to do their job.
“ In this regards, the circumstances surrounding this pandemic could be used as an occupational opportunity to change some of the outdated and ineffective practices in journalism in Nigeria ,” she added.
Amongst other awardees where; President of Association of Nigeria Health Journalists, Mr. Hassan Zaggi, Mr Friday Okeregbe,Channels Television, Gloria Essien of Voice of Nigeria, Nike Adebowale of Premium Times’s,Amake Udeh of Arise Television and others(NAN)