6 February 2013

Nigeria: Media Coverage of Mothers, Children Inadequate, Says Group

Issues related to the death of newborns and mothers from causes associated with pregnancy are inadequately and ineffectively reported in the media, the charity group Evidence For Action (E4A) has said.

E4A monitoring of press reportage showed news stories dealing with the issues were limited to inside pages of newspapers, features were few and the Nigerian media institution was yet to take stands on the issue through their editorials.

E4A, which convened health journalists and programmers in Jigawa ahead of the launch of a website to garner health reports and resources, said media reports into maternal and new health issues had to be compelling, relevant, credible, defensible and sustainable.

Akin Jimoh, a development communications specialist, said more often current reports about the issues in the media did not catch audience interest, were devoid of evidence, hampered by self censorship and failed to hold government to account.

Dispelling fatalism

Nigeria has one of the highest rates of women dying from pregnancy-related causes, but E4A says the focus on deaths of women and children have not yielded changes in government and public reaction.

"We have been hearing so much about those that die, but we don't hear about those that have survived," said Tunde Segun, country director for E4A in Nigeria.

The group also works in Ghana, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Malawi, from where stories to "showcase and celebrate successful survival strategies", according to Segun, will be uploaded onto the new MamaYe website as resource and evidence for journalists reporting health.

He said Nigeria needed to dispel fatalism associated with pregnancy and raise expectations that women don't need to die from pregnancy.

"We are talking about that shift from mortality, from fatality to survival," he added.

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