The mission of the African Media and Malaria Research Network (AMMREN) to empower African journalists to report effectively on malaria and other related health conditions has been given a boost with a successful training programme for a group of journalists in Geneva.
The journalists, beneficiaries of a media fellowship, are from the countries in the world with the highest burden of malaria.
The countries are Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, India, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda, and the United Republic of Tanzania.
The RBM Partnership in collaboration with AMMREN instituted the first ever RBM Partnership to End Malaria media fellowship as part of the Partnership’s 20th anniversary and these journalists were selected out of several applications submitted.
The training programme, which took place this May, saw the journalists meeting with various stakeholders and representatives from organisations such as the World Health Organization, Malaria No More, African Leaders Malaria Alliance and PATH.
The media practitioners were exposed to subjects such as the history of malaria and eradication efforts, lessons learnt from recent elimination success stories, overview of what has been achieved to date, the funding landscape and global strategies on malaria.
Dr Abdourahmane Diallo, Chief Executive Officer of the RBM Partnership, commenting on the media fellowship, said the “zero malaria starts with me” campaign was for everyone to play a role in the control efforts.
He said the journalists should be able to add their voices to the campaign by educating people within the local communities on the disease.
Dr. Alastair Robb, a Senior Technical Officer of the Global Malaria Programme of WHO, addressed the journalists on the global malaria situation.
He noted that progress made in controlling malaria was being hindered by the rising number of cases in countries such as Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, India, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria and Uganda.
He called on the journalists to join in the social movement to hold governments accountable and also feed citizens with the right information to sustain the fight against malaria.
He also touched on the need for more domestic funding and the mobilization of international resources to rein malaria in.
Madam Olivia Ngou, Global Coordinator of Civil Society Network For Malaria Elimination (CS4ME), in her address, said there is the need to hold governments accountable because women and children are still being affected by the disease with some of them dying from such a preventable condition.
She said CS4ME was created last year during the World Malaria Congress in Australia to ensure that civil society groups were united to influence the global response to malaria.
She explained that the mission of CS4ME is to make malaria programmes and interventions more effective, sustainable, equitable, innovative, inclusive of civil society, community-based, human rights-based, gender-sensitive and adequately funded.
Mr Robin Breen of Malaria No More US, noted that cross border control efforts is needed to end malaria because regional platforms inform country action and prevent potential malaria outbreaks.
Madam Clar Ni Conchaile, a communications consultant and former features editor for Reuters, called on media practitioners to focus on “solutions journalism”.
She said media practitioners should be ready to report on positive news instead of dwelling too much on negative ones.
Mr Samson Katikiti of African Leaders Malaria Alliance said the focus of leaders on the continent of Africa is to ensure that this region is free of the disease by 2030.