The World Health Organization (WHO) Nigeria, Head of Communication Officer, Ms Charity Warigon, Thursday, said the Association of Nigeria Health Journalist, (ANHEJ), has proven to be highly professional by rising to the test of the COVID-19 hesitancy by educating, mobilising, and creating awareness amongst the populace.
She made this known during the ANHEJ Conference with the theme – “Improving confidence in COVID-19 Vaccine”.
According to her, COVID-19 pandemic, unlike any pandemic in history, has affected everyone and every country in a manner unexpected, although there had been calls and available support to nations to build their health systems and security in preparation for future outbreaks.
Warigon noted that during the earlier phases of the pandemic, there was absence of sufficient knowledge to inform development of vaccines as the sciences were limited, which were exploited by mischief makers, through what we call, infodemics.
“The media and journalists are the bridge between scientists and the public. It behoves on every member of the Fourth Realm of the Estate to, as social responsibility, ensure the provision of accurate, timely, credible, understandable, relevant, and actionable information through various communication channels,” she said.
“We can only improve on what we have achieved so far and even do better, as there is so much to attain in driving confidence in the vaccination effort by building trust and continuously being a trusted and reliable source.
“If we are to build and maintain trust, this noble group and profession is one out of a few that have historically been proven to be trusted to provide information that shape the behavior and lives of generations of peoples the world over.
“Our messaging must continue to remind the public that, for the foreseeable future, we must continue to wear masks, physically distance, and avoid crowd. Being vaccinated doesn’t mean that we can throw caution to the wind and put ourselves and others at risk: relaxing public health and social measures interventions should be done cautiously and with careful attention paid to those who remain unvaccinated.
“WHO remains resolute in sustaining this mutually beneficial partnership with AHNEJ, towards promoting health and wellbeing, keeping the world safe and serving the vulnerable, to achieve Universal Health Coverage and ensure that no one is left behind.”