Journalists have been urged to devise innovative ways of motivating people to take up Covid-19 vaccination and adopt safer sexual behaviours voluntarily and for their own good, rather than because the Government has said so.
Addressing a National Aids Council 2020 media awards yesterday, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa applauded the role of the media in advocating for policy change.
Zimpapers scribes shone at the awards in the print category by bagging all the three at stake, with Sunday News reporter Robin Muchetu being the winner, Chronicle reporter Andile Tshuma (second) and Sunday Mail reporter Debra Matabvu (third).
"Passion and commitment are very important in covering HIV and AIDS, which face stiff competition for space from various current issues, including Covid-19, non-communicable diseases (NCDs), politics, entertainment and others," said Minister Mutsvangwa.
"Achieving health and well-being for our people is central to the vision of the Second Republic, which in addition to what we have achieved in the response to HIV and Covid-19, is investing significant resources towards rejuvenating and strengthening the national health delivery system."
Minister Mutsvangwa hailed journalists for keeping the HIV and AIDS story alive and shepherding the public towards behaviour change, as well as for their role in the widespread dissemination of information on Covid-19, which has empowered the people to practice safe behaviour.
"It is fair to say that reportage on HIV and AIDS has significantly improved over the years, especially on building and instilling hope instead of the yester-year scary and gory stories, which put forward HIV as a death sentence," she said.
"Such achievements are in line with Government policy and vision as espoused in the National Development Strategy 1, in which the media has a crucial duty to publicise and rally public participation and support."
Minister Mutsvangwa said a lot still has to be done to dispel various myths and cultural practices that still abound, including widespread complacence, which together stunt progress.
"Let me, therefore appeal to the media not to just continue with the work they have been doing, but to do it better, consistently, objectively and using language that is sensitive to the people infected and affected," she said.
"We all know that beyond those facts and figures are human faces and emotions that we need to provide hope to. You have already done this work well thus far, and I am hopeful that these awards will motivate you to do even better."
Minister Mutsvangwa said in addition to traditional print, radio and television media, while social media has huge benefits, there is need to remain vigilant to avoid its abuse.
NAC chief executive Dr Benard Madzima said they recognised and honoured excellence in HIV and AIDS reportage.
He said previously, the awards were targeting journalists only, but this year they extended them to institutions.
NAC board member Mr Tatenda Chipungudzanye said journalists should continue with the zeal to write objectively about health issues.