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Roche Unveils First Health Journalists Academy

Posted: Sep 6, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Yinka Shokunbi Lagos

Fifteen Reporters were at the weekend unveiled as pioneer of the first Health Journalist Academy (HJA) in the country premiered by leading Swiss Pharmaceutical, Roche, in partnership with the School of Media Communications (SMC), Pan Atlantic University (PAU), Lagos.

Roche Country Manager, Herman Addae (left), Director, FMoH, Dr Ngozi Azodo, (middle) Ag. Swiss Ambassador, Daniel Cavegn (second right) and Director, Professional Studies, PAU, Isaac Ezechukwu during the Launch. Photo: Yinka Shokunbi

Roche Country Manager, Herman Addae (left), Director, FMoH, Dr Ngozi Azodo, (middle) Ag. Swiss Ambassador, Daniel Cavegn (second right) and Director, Professional Studies, PAU, Isaac Ezechukwu during the Launch. Photo: Yinka Shokunbi

The reporters who are drawn from across the print, radio, television and new media were selected through a three-stage screening processes and are to undergo a year-training programme through exposure to the latest trend and techniques for specialized reporting.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, country Manager, Herman Addae, disclosed that the decision to embark on the initiative was borne out of the concern by the company to expand its responsibility beyond manufacturing and selling medication and medical devices but to significantly contribute to improving awareness of health issue among Nigerians.

According to Addae, “Recent studies indicate that Nigerians view good health as the absence of medical symptoms instead of a holistic reflection of physical, mental and emotional wellbeing”.

He noted that this poor knowledge “is typically demonstrated by late presentation of diseases and eventual high mortality from preventable deaths”.

Adding, “To help overcome the challenge of low level of awareness and prioritization among the general public, there is the need therefore to engage journalists who are positioned by virtue of their professional calling to advance the cause of the nation’s health through their reportage and coverage of health sector”; hence, one of the major reasons for the birth and launch of the Health Journalists Academy (HJA).

The country manager explained that the HJA initiative which was set up in partnership with the SMC, PAU, “is aimed at enriching health reportage and coverage in Nigeria by sharpening the skills of health journalists through exposure to the latest trends and techniques for specialised reporting as well as offering them deeper insights into health issues and diseases that are challenging the health of the nation”.

He assured that Roche would fund the training lf the 15 journalists who are expected to work with the Faculty (SMC, PAU), over the next 12 months, “driving their learning and engagement through different media, with a number of face-to-face sessions to facilitate experience sharing and consolidation of the learning”.

Also speaking at the event, the Director of Professional Studies PAU, Mr Isaac Ezechukwu noted the imperative of stakeholders’ involvement in training of journalists saying, “When you train the journalist, you educate the masses”.

Ezechukwu lamented that in recent times, the journalism profession has suffered a great deal of setback as much as the health sector has suffered decline and that it was a relief to the Faculty when Roche indicated its willingness to partner and improve on the standards of training especially in health reporting”.

Representative of the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Ngozi Azodo who is Director,

Launching the Academy, Deputy Head of Mission and Acting Swiss Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr Daniel Cavegn noted that the Swiss government is particularly proud to be associated with the programme because of the importance of health to all the people and to Nigeria as a nation.

Cavegn described health as “a complex issue ranging from research, proper education of healthcare professionals, treatment facilities, medications to affordable and comprehensive insurance schemes, which many Nigeria unfortunately still lacks for majority of its citizens”.

He pointed out also, “There is also a serious lack of basic knowledge about various illnesses and treatments which makes the need for general public awareness and education so critical. This is why such an academy as one Roche has launched is somewhat worth it”, said Cavegn.

He urged the Academy’s foundation students-journalists to ensure they get maximum benefit from the training in order to assist Nigerians better understand all issues surrounding healthcare and promote sustainable development on the long run.

The pioneer journalists of the Academy include: Odiri Uchenunu (Leadership Newspaper), Martins Ifijeh (ThisDay), Wale Adepoju (The Nation), Bukola Adebayo (Punch) and Yinka Shokunbi (Daily Independent).

Others are: Oluwatoyin Aboh (TVC), Julie Ekong (Radio Nigeria), Feyisola Toluwalope (Cool Fm), Adesuwa Omoruan (Silverbird Television), Glorial Daniels (AIT), Joy Ken Akpaboya (NTA), Franka Osakwe (National Mirror), Yosuff Moshood (Pharmanews) Monjola Sotunbo (Pulse Nigeria-newmedia) and Ehiri Ifeoma (TW Magazine).