The Coordinator, Africa Health Budget Network, (AHBN), Dr. Aminu Magashi has again re-emphasized the importance of a bi-monthly Media engagement aimed at keeping Nigerians abreast with the issues in the health sector. Magashi, made the call in Abuja when the newly elected executive members of the Association of Nigerian Health Journalists, (ANHEJ) paid him a courtesy visit. While he advocated for the reactivation of the culture, the AHBN Coordinator emphasized that the practice is one that enhances feedback with the populaces, as well as, engenders accountability.
The bi-monthly briefing was introduced by the Federal Ministry of Health in partnership with AHBN, providing a platform for updates on developments around efforts to contain COVID-19, Lassa Fever, routine immunization coverage, reproductive health initiatives among others. Magashi stressed the need to sustain the gains of the bi-monthly media interactions where the ministers, permanent secretary, heads of departments and agencies in the health sector, including private sector players communicate with the masses through the media. Magashi, therefore, appealed to the coordinating minister of health and social welfare, Dr. Ali Pate, the minister of State for Health, Dr. Tunji Alausa, the Permanent Secretary, Daju Kachollom, among others to see to its reactivation.
“The last 2 years ago, we have been supporting the bimonthly press briefing at the Ministry of Health, and we found that meeting productive and engaging in the sense that the Minister of Health and all the head of MDAs with the Chief Executive Officers in the health sector will sit down in every two weeks or every month to provide updates of what us going on in the health sector in Nigeria about COVID-19, health security, family planning, and so many in the country.” “Engaging the media on a quarterly basis has become productive and, at the same time, very useful to Nigerians whereby we know what is going on in every aspect of our healthcare system. “That has become a transparent and accountable process where ministers provide updates and the CEOs of the health sector.”
“I think it’s important to revive that press briefing with the coordinating minister of health, the minister of state, and SA to the president on health to provide updates.” “When the political players talk to the media, in the bimonthly meeting, indirectly, they are talking to Nigerians because it is through the media that ordinary Nigerians would get updated.” “I call on the new Minister of Health, Dr Muhammad Ali Pate, and all the team to activate that regular press conference.” Magashi also applauded President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for his initiative of adding the Social Welfare arm to the Ministry of health, which according to him, will better the health outcomes for Nigerians, since welfare plays a big role in the wellness of the populace.
Also, the Engagement and Partnership Lead of AHBN, Oyeyemi Pitan gave a collaboration effort going on with CSOs, Youth, and Media in monitoring the implementation of all government commitments to the health and well-being of women, children, and adolescents in Nigeria. She said all stakeholders must be involved to develop a collaborative advocacy action plan to ensure commitments are of good quality and implemented promptly. “The role of media in this is key and we trust you are with us to ensure our advocacy messages get to the right quarters.” She said.
Earlier, the President of ANHEJ, Comrade Joseph Kadiri, thanked AHBN for its steadfast support through the years. He also pledged the new leadership’s readiness to work closely with AHBN as has been the culture to provide visibility for the work they do over the years and appealed that AHBN extends its usual support to the new Executive.