Jul 8, 2013, 11:51 AM
The Association of Health Journalists (AOHJ) on Saturday, April 16th 2011 held its congress at the Daily News Offices in Churchill’s Town.
Bellow we reproduce the full text of the report of the out going president Pa Modou Faal.
I would like to seize this great opportunity to thank all the members of this great association who have since its inception in 2001 have been working zealously to achieve its set aims and objectives which include creating a forum for health journalists in the country to discuss issues of common concern in relation to effective health journalism practice in the country.
Over the years, health journalists have contributed a lot towards the health sector by providing accurate, timely and useful information through various media (newspaper, TV, radio) to Gambians and non-Gambians alike in the country. Through the personal commitment of members of this association, there are now columns in some of the local newspapers specifically devoted to health and health related matters. Members of AOHJ are also running radio programmes on health issues. In both cases, the overriding interest is to create greater awareness of health issues among the citizenry.
As a young association, we set for ourselves modest targets primarily among them is capacity building of our members. It is a known fact that without self-improvement on new skills and technology, no journalist will be able to work effectively. That is why since 2006 when I took over the reins of leadership from the pioneering president of our great association Mr Madi M.K. Ceesay I have together with unflinching support of everyone to organize a series of training programmes that have been very useful to those who took part. Some of these training programmes include the annual tuberculosis trainings organized by the National Tuberculosis Leprosy Control Programme of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, with funding by the Global Fund; the annual Malaria orientation trainings organized by the National Malaria Control programme; the UNICEF’s sensitization programme on good healthy behaviour; the WHO organized sub regional workshop on non-communicable diseases for communicators; the WHO workshop on dissemination of health terminology; the three-day UNFPA-funded workshop on reporting FGM (Female Genital Mutilation) and a five-day CIAM-organized workshop on strengthening capacity of journalists on research-based evidence.
In addition to developing the capacity of individual members of AOHJ, the association has also made much impact in nation building. Today, AOHJ is a member of the national codex committee as well as a member of the communication multi-sectoral taskforce of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. It was also co-opted a member of the former taskforce on the operation clean the nation exercise.
In terms of institutional strengthening, the AOHJ now has two computers as well as five flash-drives which are available to all members for use. About three years ago, a peace corps volunteer Andreas donated some books (reference library) to the AOHJ which due to lack of space are now kept at the GPU Library.
Additionally, the AOHJ together with the National Assembly and CIAM recently implemented a project funded by Wellcome Trust UK in which the three members of the AOHJ (Pa Modou Faal, Alhaji Serign Faye and Sarjo Camara) were selected during an executive meeting held at CIAM to serve on the project steering committee. Under this project, the AOHJ got the two computers and the five flash drives mentioned earlier. The CIAM-workshop was also organized under this project. Another workshop will soon be organized under this project.
Despite these modest accomplishments that have been recorded by the two successive executive committees of the AOHJ, we are still faced with several challenges. Prominent among is the non-registration of the association as yet. The others include lack of a fully functional secretariat as well as the challenge of irregular meetings; meetings are few and far between. Members should demonstrate greater commitment to the association by attending meetings regularly.
I would also like to suggest to the incoming executive committee to work much harder on the area of fund raising so that the association can generate sufficient revenue to meet most of its commitment and organize its activities.
At this point, I want to sincerely thank once again the members of this association for entrusting me with the great responsibility of steering the affairs of the AOHJ for the past years. I am deeply honoured and humbled by your trust and faith in me. It is now time for me to bow out and give a chance to others to continue from where I have stopped. But I will always be available to offer any assistance that may be required of me as a member of AOHJ.
Thank you and God bless.
Long Live AOHJ