By Mohamed Konneh
Health Reporters Network Sierra Leone in collaboration with Speak Up Africa will hold its first Malaria and Health awards on January 29th 2021 at the Golden Tulip Hotel, Aberdeen in Freetown.
The award ceremony is part of effort to recognize journalists who have done so much in educating communities about malaria and to also recognize people who have done so well within the health sector.
The award is also for Speak Up Africa to celebrate journalists who have demonstrated exemplary leadership that have brought about a positive impact through their work and initiatives.
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 raised 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 ceremony will be in two folds; first, Speak Up Africa will give awards to deserving media practitioners who did very good stories on Malaria in the year 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.
Swaliho noted that so much continue to be done in the sector with little known by the public and the need to recognize such individuals and institutions.
“It is high time we recognized these people so that they will continue to do more. 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 highlighted some of the successes gained since the organization was formed noting that they have partnered with Speak Up Africa, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation on a number of health related activities.
“We have been also very active since the Corona virus 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.
Swaliho 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 Starts with “Me campaign” in April on World Malaria Day 2019. Led by the National Malaria Control Program 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 including health practitioners and organizations will be awarded during this period for their contribution to the sector.