From Obinna Odogwu, Awka
International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos has said that it would train a total of 45 journalists drawn from the South East, South-South and South West regions of the country on investigative healthcare reporting.
This, it said, was as a result of the outcome of its one-month survey of the coverage of healthcare issues by three national dailies – The Punch, The Sun, Vanguard and one online news platform – Premium Times – for the month of December 2020.
In a statement issued to Daily Sun by the IPC’s Programme Manager, Sanmi Falobi, the organization said that “the newspapers were randomly selected for the survey in order to have baseline information on the state of media reporting of health issues ahead of the training of 45 Nigerian journalists on accountability and impactful reporting of the health sector from this month.”
The statement quoted the Executive Director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, as saying that “It is good that the concerned newspapers gave robust coverage to health issues particularly the COVID-19 pandemic but there were noticeable gaps in such areas as prominence and sources.”
The statement partly read: “The summary of the outcome of the one-month survey showed that while the specific issue of COVID-19 accounted for 65.7% of the relevant reports, maternal health had 5.3%; malaria/typhoid 3% and diabetes 2.4%. Coverage of Cancer was 2%; public health, 0.9%; mental health, 0.48% and other viral infections 0.48%.
“In terms of prominence, majority of the reports were published on the inside page (79%) followed by the front page (7.3%) and editorial page ( 3.7%).
“The context of the events were: events coverage (32.2%), press release (31%,) and press conference (12.6%) whereas investigations accounted for 13% and interviews (10.7%).
“Most of the sources used were government officials (28.2%); health professionals (23.2%); health institutions/authorities as sources accounted for (11%); professional bodies (5.35%); development/donor community and CSOs (5% each); foreign health institutions (4.6%); citizens (4%,) and other professionals (0.36%,). The category others was 13.2%.
“The fact that COVID-19 was the most covered issue during the period probably explains why majority of the reports were derived from events, press releases and press conferences, but what we want to see is more investigative efforts in the reporting of accountability issues in health care service delivery”, Mr. Arogundade explained.
According to him, the outcome of the monitoring would now be factored into the capacity building program planned for print, broadcast and online journalists in the South-south, South-west and South-east geo-political zones of the country.
“It is worth reiterating that the baseline survey and the planned trainings are part of the 6-month ‘Media in Health Care Accountability Project (MeHCAP) being implemented by IPC with the support of the US Consulate General in Lagos”, Mr. Arogundade added.
According to him, this is within the context of a strategic initiative of building and rebuilding the capacity of the media to serve as effective catalysts of fundamental healthcare reforms following the weaknesses in the system exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All we seek to do is to encourage investigative and community-driven health reporting initiatives to ensure the emergence of functional hospitals and other healthcare facilities which can only happen if we have the next generation of investigative health journalists whose reporting would be data, fact and solution-driven”.