Health Issues: Survey Scores Investigative Reports On COVID-19 Pandemic Low

LAGOS – Report of a survey of press reporting of health issues in Nigeria, especially COVID-19, within one month has scored investigative exposure of the pandemic low.

The International Press Centre (IPC), Lagos, Nigeria, on Wednesday, released the report of the one-month survey of coverage of health issues by four Nigerian newspapers – The Punch, Daily Sun, Vanguard and PremiumTimes for December 2020.

Mr Lanre Arogundade, Executive Director of IPC, in the report, lauded the concerned newspapers for a “robust coverage to health issues particularly the COVID-19 pandemic which recorded 65.7 per cent overall. 

“However, he observed there were noticeable gaps in such areas as prominence and sources, saying that majority of the reports were derived from events, press releases and press conferences, while investigations accounted for 13% and interviews 10.7%.

The survey report, signed by Mr Sanmi Falobi, IPC’s Programme reads: “The summary of the outcome of the one-month survey showed that while the specific issues of COVID-19 accounted for 65.7% of the relevant reports, “maternal health’’ had 5.3%; “malaria/typhoid’’,  3% and “diabetes’’ 2.4%.

“Coverage of “Cancer” was 2%; “public health”, 0.9%; “mental health”, 0.48% and “other viral infections’’, 0.48%.“In terms of prominence, the majority of the reports were published on the Inside Page (79%) followed by the Front Page (7.3%) and the editorial page (3.7%).“The context of the events were “events coverage” (32.2%), “press release” (31%) and “press conference” (12.6%) whereas “investigations accounted for 13% and interviews (10.7%).

The report added: “Most of the sources used were ‘’Government officials’’ (28.2%); ‘’Health Professionals’’, (23.2%); ‘’HealthInstitutions/Authorities’’ as sources accounted for (11%); ‘’ProfessionalBodies’’, (5.35%); ‘’Development/Donor community’’ and ‘’CSOs’’ (5% each);‘’ Foreign health institutions’’, (4.6%); ‘’Citizens’’, (4%,) and ‘’OtherProfessionals’’ (0.36%,).

The category “Others” was 13.2%.” Mr Arogundade, in the report, added: “The fact that COVID-19was the most covered issue during the period probably explains why a majority of the reports were derived from events, press releases and press conferences.

“But what we want to see is more investigative efforts in the reporting of accountability issues in health care service delivery.”

He stated that the report would be factored into the capacity-building programme planned for print, broadcast and online journalists in theSouth-south, South-west and South-east geo-political zones of the country.

“It is worth reiterating that the baseline survey and the planned training form part of the 6-month ‘Media in Health Care AccountabilityProject (MeHCAP) being implemented by IPC with the support of the US consulate general in Lagos,” Mr Arogundade added. 

He explained that the training is within the context of a strategic initiative of building and rebuilding the capacity of the media to serve as effective catalysts of fundamental health care reforms following the weaknesses in the system exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“All we seek to do is to encourage investigative and community-driven health reporting initiatives to ensure the emergence of functional hospitals and other health care facilities which can only happen if we have the next generation of investigative health journalists whose reporting would be data, fact and solution-driven,” he added.

Read the Source post on Independent Newspapers Nigeria.