AFCON 2013 UAM Media Event: Ghanaian Media challenged to make Malaria a niche Issue

By Emmanuel Fiagbey, VOICES Program, Ghana

nigeria-mali-2013.jpgWhen 60 journalists from 7 Television stations, 10 print media establishments and 12 radio stations gathered at the Novotel Hotel in Accra on this day, the clarion call was that, even though civil wars, border disputes, political rivalries and disputes, hunger, poverty and armed robberies etc. are critical issues attracting the attention of the media, Malaria must not be forgotten otherwise the lives of children, pregnant women and the workforce at large would be kept perpetually at risk.

In her address to the media practitioners representing the Ghana Media Malaria Advocacy Network and 15 representatives from the Ghana Football Association, the Private Sector and NGOs at this event, DR. Constance Bart-Plange, Manager of the National Malaria Control Program stated that progress so far made by Ghana in managing Malaria – almost 87% national household ownership of nets; 90% of mothers knowing the mosquito as the true cause of malaria; and national adoption of ACTs for treating the disease need to be protected.

She therefore appealed to the media to remain responsible in their reportage and promotion of all interventions being applied in the country. She called on the private sector companies in the UAM partnership to step up their workplace malaria-safe programs and always endeavour to feed the media with appropriate information on their contributions to the fight against the disease. Dr. Bart-Plange further emphasized that engaging the media, the Private Sector and the Football Association in promoting malaria advocacy tells the full story of the disease as a social and development issue that concerns all sectors of society. “It is a healthy malaria-free people who must play, watch and cheer football, the game we all love and so, we must all be part of this fight,” she reiterated.

afcon-1a.jpgAn official of the National Malaria Control Program, Ms. Vivian Aubyn on her part reminded the media and the private sector partners of the objectives of the Ghana 2008-2015 Malaria Control Strategy and the various policies such as the New Drug Policy and the Integrated Malaria Vector Management Policy. She pleaded with the media and private sector partners to ensure their programs and activities always conform to the prescriptions of the national strategy and the existing policies.
Mr. Fred Crentsil, Vice President of the Ghana Football Association in his contribution reminded Ghanaians that “there is no excuse for a footballer to fail to perform at his or her maximum best because of a malaria attack when we all know that sleeping under insecticide treated nets effectively prevents this disease.”

In his delivery, Mr. Emmanuel Fiagbey, Country Director of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs VOICES project called on the media to continue to strategically employ the art of news making to promote public debate and leadership decision making on important issues concerning malaria through direct news items, editorials, features, rejoinders, live interviews and documentaries. In this way, he stressed, the media will remain a powerful mechanism for mobilizing public opinion on emerging issues on Malaria and attracting appropriate responses from local and national leadership as well as the donor community. He urged members of the Ghana Media Malaria Advocacy Network and all other journalists to sustain their watchdog role of exposing abuses and misdeeds by miscreants in the health and allied professions, the pharmaceutical industry, politicians, senior civil servants, NGOs, etc in managing resources meant for malaria control.

afcon-5a.jpgIn launching the colourful AFCON 2013 GOAL Malaria Magazine at the event, Prof. Isabella Quakyi, Former Dean of the School of Public Health of the University of Ghana and Member of the Ghana Health Service Council, who chaired the event, described the GOAL as a self teacher on Malaria prevention and treatment which should engage the attention of everyone during the AFCON 2013 tournament and after. The GOAL Magazine, she explained, “is simply telling all readers, if you love football then you must have the passion to fight malaria.” Prof. Quakyi called on all organizations and individuals to support the continued publication and distribution of this special magazine.

The Ghana AFCON 2013 Media Malaria advocacy event was organized by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs Voices for a Malaria-free Future project in collaboration with the National Malaria Control Program, the Ghana Football Association and the Ghana Media Malaria Advocacy Network.

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