The United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF) has renewed its commitment to support the Nigerian health sector towards improving maternal and child health, strengthening immunisation and revitalisation of Primary Healthcare system in the country.
The Deputy Executive Director, Programme, UNICEF, Mr. Omar Abdi, made this known while meeting with the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, in Abuja.
Abdi said that UNICEF and Federal Ministry of Health have a long history of partnership in improving healthcare system in Nigerian, however their visit to the minister was to renew their commitment and to ensure that their plans were in line with the minister’s priority.
Speaking further, member of the delegation, Marie Pierre Poipier, UNICEF West and Central Africa Regional Office, Dakar, Republic of Senegal said that UNICEF considered Nigeria as a very important country in West and Central African Region.
She said that sharing ideas between the minister and UNICEF may offer solutions to some of the numerous challenges confronting the Nigerian health sector.
She said; “We sought for a conversation with you to hear your vision and strategy so that we can support it, we want to set specific objectives, which would include immunisation component which may support the fight against polio in the country.’’
“We want your guidance, we are on the process of shaping the next five years programme, so we want to make sure that what we want to do in the health sector in Nigeria is in line with your priority, but also we shall together define it in terms of actual result that we would achieve on children,” she added.
Responding, the Minister of Health, Adewole who appreciated the support of UNICEF in the fight against polio, child survival, prevention of mother to child HIV/AIDS transmission and nutrition said that investing on Primary Health Care system at the community level was the only way to improve the health indices of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the UN body has urged media practitioners to protect the rights of children through ethically based reportage in accordance with best global practices for the protection of the child’s right.
At the two-day media workshop on ethical reporting on children held in Ibadan, Oyo State, the UNICEF Communication Officer, Lagos Office, Mrs. Blessing Ejiofor, said that reportage about children without following the ethical guidelines and principles could expose the children to more harm.
In her words, “We all know that reporting on children and young people has its special challenges. In some instances, the act of reporting on children places them or other children at risk of retribution or stigmatisation in the society.”
It is on this note that the workshop aims to share with journalists some developed decent guidelines and principles that will assist them cover children in an age-appropriate and sensitive manner.
“The guidelines are meant to support the best intentions of ethical reporter in serving the public interest without compromising the rights of children,” she said.
Ejiofor explained further that the media workshop was to familiarise participants with the equity focused child right-based approaches to reporting on children and to share experiences on best practices worldwide.
In his presentation entitled: ‘Equity Focused Child Rights Reporting and Understanding the Role of the Media in Reporting Rights Issue’ UNICEF Media Consultant, Dr. Goke Rauf, urged participants to always remember that the potential impacts of news on the child and society at large must be considered first.
According to Rauf, who is also a Director, School of Communication and Information Technology, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic, Ogun State, media should always report issues concerning children in accordance with ethical guidelines and principles so as to safeguard and secure their future. If you reveal the child’s identity, the story will haunt him for the rest of his life. Hence, some stories should be averted.”
Rauf maintained that the guidelines are meant to support the best intentions of ethical reporting in serving the public interest without compromising the rights of children. “Practising ethical journalism should ensure that the immediate and long-term well-being of children is not in danger; maintaining ethical standards is the responsibility of every journalist.”
He urged the journalists to equip themselves with Child Right Act and other relevant laws so as to guide against portraying the children in a way that could subject them to embarrassment, ridicule and stigmatisation.
From his words: “In reporting the truth, journalists should be guided by other values like national security, public interest, privacy of others, freedom of others and more importantly, the child’s right especially when the matter affect the children.
“Also, Nigerian mass media should brace up to their responsibilities and reclaim their pride as credible platforms by doing all things possible to reverse the trend where some lazy traditional media now rely on social media as source of news items,” he said
Meanwhile, the Chief Public Affairs Officer of the Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy, Mr. Rasaq Musbau, who lauded journalists for their good works through their various media organisations, said, “Abide by the ethical reporting of issues affecting children by familiarising yourselves with the ethical guidelines being promoted by the UNICEF workshop.”