January 22, 2021
By Elizabeth A Kaine
The Health Reporters Network Sierra Leone and Speak Up Africa first Malaria and Health award ceremony, which was supposed to have been held today, January 22nd at the Golden Tulip Hotel, has been postponed to Friday 29th January.
The award ceremony is part of effort to recognize journalists who have done so much in educating communities about malaria and demonstrated exemplary leadership that has brought about a positive impact through their work and initiatives and to also recognize people who have done so well within the health sector.
Speaking to this medium about the planned awards, Health Reporters Network President, Swaliho Vandi said the award is to recognize media practitioners who continue to raise awareness and drive action around important public health issues such as malaria, neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), immunization, sanitation, and COVID-19.
He said the award would be two folds and that Speak Up Africa will give award to deserving media practitioners who did very good stories on Malaria in 2020, while Health Reporters Network will award health practitioners, institutions, civil society groups, individuals and NGOs, who continue to contribute to the country’s health sector.
Vandi noted that so much continue to be done in the sector while the public has little knowledge about it hence the need to recognize such individuals and institutions cannot be overemphasized.
“It is time we recognize these people so that they will continue to do more. Also as journalists, we continue to write educative stories and bringing out the odds in the sector for government and key stakeholders to take action. This is the more reason for this award,” he said.
The Health Reporters Network President highlights some of the organization since it was formed, noting that they have partnered with Speak Up Africa and the Ministry of Health and Sanitation on a number of health related activities.
“We have been also very active since the Coronavirus outbreak with our members joining NACOVERC to reach out to communities and putting out stories on regulations. Our stories on health issues especially malaria continue to educate the wider public on preventive methods and how we could all help to kick malaria out of Sierra Leone and Africa as a whole,” he said.
Vandi said the role of the network is to rally young people, coordinate the media and reporters to increase awareness in the fight against malaria and other health related issues.
Sierra Leone announced the roll out of its Zero Malaria with “Me campaign” in April on World Malaria Day 2019. Led by the National Malaria Control Programme and supported by Speak Up Africa, the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, the African Union, and with funding from Comic Relief & GSK, Sierra Leone is leveraging the movement to strengthen support from local and national political, religious and traditional leaders, as well as driving private sector support and community engagement across the country.
In Sierra Leone, the name of the campaign is translated into Krio as “Malaria E Don Wan Dae Na Mi Han”. Media practitioners and health practitioners and organizations will be awarded during this period for their contribution to the sector.
The new media coalition will amplify the reach and the impact of the campaign by supporting and engaging journalists to step up and play their part in the fight against malaria.