Lagos State Former Commissioner for Health, Dr. Leke Pitan made the call at the official launch of Hala Nigeria Story Challenge in Lagos.
Hala Nigeria Story Challenge is an initiative of the International Centre for Journalists (ICFJ) in collaboration with African Health Journalist of Nigeria (AHJA) which aims to improve public information on health matters, increase public engagement and amplify citizens’ voices in health news.
According to him, health stories get low readership daily in Nigerian newspapers because most media houses pay little attention to them.
Pitan made reference to a survey conducted on readership of all section in the dailies where political and other pages recorded high readership than health pages.
He called for strategies that would allow health related issues become lead stories in dailies.
Pitan also stressed the need for the media to publish health issues that the readers would be able to comment.
Meanwhile, the Director of African Health Journalist of Nigeria (AHJA) Mr. Declan Okpalaeke said the purpose of HALA Nigeria is to educate journalists on the need to reflect the people’s voice in the health issues they report.
He queried why there was low response of public commentators on health issues compared to other societal matters raised by the media.
Buttressing Pitan’s view, a media consultant, Cece Fadope advised that public health issues should be reported in a compelling way if this trend must change.
A multimedia journalist Mr. Tunde Akpeji stated that the idea of Hala project is to increase citizens engagement in journalism on issues concerning health in the society.
He said the ICFJ has over 62 vibrant citizen journalists in the Niger Delta area and the organization is willing to expand its network for effective journalism.