By Mohamed Konneh
In collaboration with ‘Speak Up Africa,’ Health Reporters’ Network-Sierra Leone will hold its first Malaria and Health awards on 22nd January 2021 at the Golden Tulip Hotel, Aberdeen in Freetown.
The award ceremony is part of an 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.
Also, the ceremony will accord Speak Up Africa the opportunity to celebrate journalists who have demonstrated exemplary leadership that has brought about a positive impact in the health sector through their work and initiatives.
According to Swaliho Vandi, Health Reporters Network president, the award ceremony will be in two folds. He said first, Speak Up Africa will recognise deserving media practitioners for their 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. Also as journalists, we continue to write educative stories and bring 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 several health-related activities.
“We have also been 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 can all help to kick malaria out of Sierra Leone and Africa as a whole.
Swaliho said the role of the Network is to rally round young people, coordinate the media and reporters to increase awareness in the fight against malaria and other health-related issues.
Sierra Leone announced the rollout 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, are always awarded during this period for their contribution to the sector.