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WHO Representative task Journalists

May 18, 2010, 12:50 PM | Article By: Picture: Dr. Thomas Sukwa

The World Health Organization Representative to the Gambia Dr Thomas Sukwa has urged Gambian journalists to educate themselves about malaria and also read about malaria and ask experts any doubts about the disease.

Dr Sukwa, who was presenting a paper on the role of the media in malaria prevention and control organized by the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN) Gambia chapter on the commemoration of the World Malaria Day recently opined that journalists should always put malaria on the public agenda by conducting periodic interviews, press briefings, writing feature articles and dedicating columns and programmes to malaria prevention and control.

Dr Sukwa pointed out that the traditional role of the media is to inform and educate and should be fully equipped in packaging and disseminating information on malaria, noting that scientific evidence generated over the years on the various aspects of malaria is enormous.

This information, he added very often, does not reach lay people who need it most to protect themselves from the scourge of malaria.

He added that an important role of the media is therefore to help disseminate this scientific information in a language people can understand, enjoy and translate into tangible actions at community levels.

He pointed out that the role of the media in malaria prevention and control is essential and critical to consolidate the gains already made in this beautiful country, adding that the media can help in mobilizing resources and communities to implement cost- effective interventions and set the agenda for unified action against malaria.

He assured the media that the World Health Organization doors are open for them and called on AMMREN members to make good use of the opportunity accorded to them. He also advised AMMREN to partner with key stakeholders in the fight against malaria.

For his part, the Deputy Permanent Secretary at ministry of health, Alhagie Omar Taal, who deputized for the minister gave a brief background of AMMREN, noting that it was formed in November, 2006 and it is a network of African Journalists and Scientists working together to reduce the burden of malaria, which he added, is endemic in most parts of Africa and the number one killer of children under five.

Mr Taal added that AMMEN's mission through its vision is to promote timely communication of malaria research findings and outcomes in Africa, through strengthened collaboration between malaria researchers and journalists.

He stated that the government of the Gambia relies on effective journalism to sensitize the public on health issues, policies and programmes and look forward to the partnership between government and the media. "I must state that the relationship has been very cordial with the health sector, and we commend the Malaria Clinical Trial Alliance (MCTA) who in 2006 in Ghana organized a workshop which resulted to the formation of AMMREN," Taal stated.

For his part the Ammren Gambia country co-ordinador Momodou Faal said AMMREN is a sub-regional body comprising of ten countries in Africa. Faal stated that AMMREN has come to compliment African government efforts in the fight against malaria and called on stakeholders in the fight against malaria to support AMMREN in its drive in the fight against malaria.