By Chioma Obinna
THE Nigerian media have been urged to prioritise the reporting of outbreaks of epidemics with a view to boosting the countryâ€™s preparedness in response to both pandemic and epidemics.
This was the submission of medical experts at a 4 – a day media workshop on reporting A-H1N1 organised by the United Nations Education Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Information in Kano State as part of efforts to raise alerts level on A-H1N1 and other out break of epidemics in the country.
In his paper entitled; â€œKey Issues in Nigeriaâ€™s Experience with Media Handling/Coverage of Public Health Issuesâ€, Mr. MacArthur S. Hill, a Communication Specialist with UNICEF who stressed the need to prioritise reporting of public health issues accused the media of selective reporting based on perceived importance of the issue.
According to him, public health issues are usually single reports â€“ no follow up reports.
Hill noted the media perception of public health issues had denied local communities and vulnerable groups opportunities to be key sources of public health information.
Also in his paper, â€œPandemic Influenza A(H1N1)â€ the Chief Consultant Epidemiologist in the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Henry. Akpan who x-rayed risks of a pandemic described as enormous, the impact of epidemics on food, income and loss from poultry deaths/ culling said it decreased economic activity.
Represented by Dr. Gbadegesin Yemi, a Medical Microbiologist in the Ministry, he identified under reporting, concealment of information, failure of some sick people to seek medical care timely as major challenges in controlling epidemics.