11 July 2023 | Abuja - NCDC & Partners Launch Media Fellowship to Strengthen Health Reporting in Nigeria
"When the next pandemic arrives — and it will, we must be ready to respond decisively, collectively, and equitably." Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (WHO Director-General)"
The progressive trend of disease outbreaks in Nigeria and most parts of the world over the past two decades attest to the above statement made by the Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros, at the 76th World Health Assembly. Disease outbreaks are a certainty. It is often a question of when not if. This is why outbreak preparedness, which is not a new idea but given a new lease of life by the COVID-19 pandemic, must be taken beyond the next level.
Over the years, Nigeria has experienced several infectious disease outbreaks in many parts of the country not limited to the highly pathogenic avian influenza, Ebola, Mpox, COVID-19, yellow fever, rabies, bovine tuberculosis, measles, and rubella outbreaks. In more recent times, Nigeria has seen unprecedented peak incidences of Lassa fever, Mpox, diphtheria, cholera, and meningitis.
A major gap identified by the NCDC during the response to these infectious outbreaks is the challenge of effective science communication, a requisite for the general public to accept and adopt public health advisories and to build resilience against the negative impacts of infodemics. This gap is driven by a lack of understanding of the dynamic epidemiology of disease outbreaks by media practitioners reporting on health. Consequently, this limits their ability to set the agenda and utilise their platforms to empower affected populations with all the information they need to make informed decisions.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that outbreak preparedness and response must be disease- and population-centric for acceptance and compliance. As a result, investment into understanding the perceptions, needs, knowledge, attitude, and practices of populations at risk are critical to effectively conduct outbreak investigation and response. Public resistance to and hesitance to uptake scientific output and guidance during the pandemic response was indicative of this. This phenomenon was catalysed by rampant misinformation, disinformation, and mal-information – infodemic! This pattern is expected to persist into and/or recur during future outbreaks.
THE ROLE OF THE MEDIA
The role of the media in bridging the gap between science, health and one-health authorities, and the population cannot be overemphasised. Media practitioners have the platforms, the audience, the trust and/or attention of their audience. Empowering journalists with basic knowledge of epidemiological concepts and others required to help them accurately and responsibly report on the science of disease outbreaks will enhance Nigeria’s preparedness and response. To address this capacity gap among health reporters, the NCDC, AFENET, and BA-Nigeria led by Johns Hopkins Centre for Communication Programmes have jointly developed a unique media fellowship, Epidemiology, Infodemiology and Social and Behaviour Change/Risk Communication Media Fellowship (MEDIA-EIS FELLOWSHIP).
ABOUT THE MEDIA-EIS FELLOWSHIP
The MEDIA-EIS Fellowship is a premier capacity-building program established to develop the knowledge, and skills, of journalists working in the public health space through comprehensive training on Basic Epidemiology, Infodemiology, and Social and Behaviour Change (SBC)/Risk Communication. The Fellowship recognises the parallels between the three programme areas and how each impacts the other.
The MEDIA-EIS Fellowship consortium designed the programme to enhance the success of field epidemiology investments, and to contribute to disease prevention, detection, and control of outbreaks, thereby strengthening Nigeria’s health security.
The MEDIA-EIS fellows will engage closely with mentors, who are experts in journalism and public health, technical staff from the One Health Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, as well as subject-matter experts. Fellows will be exposed to relevant research, disease and/or thematic technical working groups, key decision makers, and timely information that will aid them in delivering policy-impacting and perception-shaping media content.
The Fellowship is expected to create a cadre of media experts who will not only play a more qualitative role in outbreak coverage and reportage but also play the critical role of ensuring accountability, transparency, and upholding best practices in finance, equity, and human rights observation during outbreaks. Trained Fellows will ensure less privileged populations are not marginalised but have the same attention as their more privileged counterparts across the entire spectrum of emergency preparedness and response.
ELIGIBILITY - The Fellowship is open to all journalists in the health sector in Nigeria. Person specifications and other requirements are provided in the call for applications. The first cohort will consist of thirty successful applicants.
DURATION - Four (4) months
FORMAT – Hybrid
CALL TO ACTION - Today, we present the MEDIA-EIS Fellowship programme and announce the call for applications. We urge all journalists, editors, programme managers, and influencers who desire to operate in the public health space and who have the requisite qualification to take advantage of this opportunity.
More detailed information for prospective applicants can be found on the websites and social media pages of the collaborating partners.
NCDC (FB, Twitter, IG) - ncdcgov
BA-Nigeria - Banigeria (IG, Twitter), Breakthrough ACTION-Nigeria (FB)
AFENET (FB, Twitter, IG) – afenetnigeria
For more inquiries contact:
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) is the country’s national public health institute, with the mandate to lead the preparedness, detection, and response to public health emergencies. The Bill for an Act to establish NCDC was signed into law in November 2018 by President Muhammadu Buhari. The mission of the NCDC is to protect the health of Nigerians through evidence-based prevention, integrated disease surveillance and response, using a One Health approach, guided by research, and led by a skilled workforce.
NCDC Toll-free Number: 6232 | SMS: 08099555577 | WhatsApp: 07087110839 Twitter: @NCDCGov | Facebook: @NCDCgov | Instagram: @NCDCgov | NCDC Media Releases
Dr Ifedayo Adetifa
Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.