May 6, 2009, 5:37 AM
Journalists drawn from the print and electronic media across the country have been tasked to intensify their efforts in the fight against the killer-disease malaria by disseminating accurate, reliable and timely information on malaria.
The challenge to journalists by officials of the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) and Ministry of Health and Social Welfare was made at a daylong sensitisation forum for journalists, held at the NMCP hall.
The sensitisation, according to officials, was aimed at increasing the knowledge of media personnel on malaria control and prevention.
Addressing journalists at the forum, NMCP's Programme Manager, Adam Jagne-Sonko said malaria has become a major public health problem.
"We need partnership to roll-back malaria, and the media as a key partner has a pivotal role to play in information sharing and dissemination. We urge you (journalists) to use your pen in the fight against malaria." Mrs. Jagne-Sonko told reporters.
Mrs Jagne-Sonko described the media as an agent of change and a key partner in the roll-back malaria campaign, noting that there are emerging issues. He stressed that the media needs to be updated on any new developments.
"NMCP has seen the need to keep sensitising journalists on malaria prevention, as they play a vital role in information dissemination. Access to malaria treatment will not only focus on pregnant women and children, as we are all vulnerable to the scourge of malaria," she noted.
The NMCP's Programme Manager also expressed the need for behavioural change towards the use of mosquito nets in the country, adding that coverage is high, but the usage is low.
"People should change their behaviour towards using mosquito nets. Malaria eradication and elimination needs a holistic approach and strategy," she added.
According to her, "we all have a role and responsibility to play in the fight against malaria," and she commended the media for their partnership, and "for responding to our call."
Dr. Adama Demba, the Deputy Director of Health Services described health journalists as key partners in the drive to fight against malaria, stressing that the media needs to get accurate information to the public.
"Your role is paramount in this crusade. There is a policy change in malaria control and prevention and, as such, the media continues to be updated on the issue," she stated.
As partners, she added, "information is participatory and clear. If you don't understand ask," she noted.