The desire to enrich health reportage in the country, increase awareness of health-related issues and promote healthy living among Nigerians prompted the decision of Roche Products Limited to sponsor the Health Journalists Academy, Roche’s Country Manager, Nigeria, Mr Herman Addae, has said.
The initiative which was formally unveiled during a colourful ceremony held last month at Wheatbaker Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos, was organised in partnership with the School of Media and Communication (SMC) at the Pan-Atlantic University, Ibeju-Lekki.
Speaking during the unveiling of 15 Nigerian health journalists, the first beneficiaries of the initiative, who had been drawn from the print, broadcast and new media, Mr Addae said the Academy would contribute significantly to improving the awareness of health issues among Nigerians.
While noting that the initiative would help in sharpening the skills of health journalists through exposure to the latest trends and techniques for specialised reporting, the Roche boss said the company was committed to helping to find new ways to enhance health care delivery in the country.
In his words: “We are convinced that our duty as a responsible corporate citizen goes beyond manufacturing and selling medication and medical devices. We have therefore decided to explore a new way to improve health care delivery in Nigeria.”
He stated further that “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. This is typically demonstrated by late presentation of diseases and eventual high mortality from preventable deaths.”
Mr Addae explained that, generally, there was poor public awareness about diseases burden in Nigeria, adding that even though there were areas in the country where health care could be seen as improving, there was still poor awareness about health and diseases.
He said it was therefore very important 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 the health sector.
While also speaking at the occasion, Dr Ngozi Azodoh, director of health planning of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), who represented Mr Linus Awute, permanent secretary (FMOH), commended Roche for the initiative and urged the 15 health journalists to make use of the knowledge from the Academy to be change agents in the nation’s health sector.