Nigeria Health Watch has been advocating for increased and sustained domestic funding for epidemic preparedness at the national and sub-national levels in Nigeria since 2018 as part of the Global Health Advocacy Incubator’s (GHAI) Prevent Epidemics program, a Resolve to Save Lives initiative. The goal is to increase public and policymaker awareness of and demand for epidemic preparedness funding and improve local policymakers’ understanding of the need for epidemic preparedness. One of the campaign strategies for Nigeria Health Watch is direct engagement with the media through journalism masterclasses and fellowships, where journalists are sensitized and supported to write impactful stories on the need to fund epidemic preparedness activities in Nigeria.

On January 27, 2023, Nigeria Health Watch awarded three #PreventEpidemicsNaija Journalism awards to recognize excellence in epidemic preparedness reporting. The third in a series of award ceremonies since 2021, the annual event is designed to raise awareness of the need to bridge health security gaps and bring together key stakeholders, including the Heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies responsible for implementing the Nigeria’s National Action Plan for Health Security.

The #PreventEpidemicsNaija Journalism Award highlights the critical role of journalism in stimulating citizens’ demand for policymakers to appropriate and release more funds for health security and epidemic preparedness. The 2023 event, titled “Celebrating Media Excellence for Epidemic Preparedness and Response,” received hundreds of submissions from journalists around the country, covering a wide range of topics related to the pandemic and other infectious disease outbreaks. Selected by a panel of leading experts in journalism, public health and global health, the winners of the awards were:

Blessing I Enebeli, Voice of Nigeria; Nike Adebowale-Tambe, Premium Times; Karen Ezedimbu Ogom, AIT Nigeria

  • Print/Online News Category: Nike Adebowale-Tambe for her powerful report on different factors, such as stigma and poor funding, threatening infectious disease elimination in Nigeria
  • Radio/Audio Category: Blessing I Enebeli’s insightful report on Nigeria’s state of preparedness in combating the monkey pox virus
  • Television/Video Category: Karen Ezedimbu Ogom’s in-depth report on preventing and preparing for epidemics

The event began with an address from Dr. Victor Tugumizemu, representing the World Health Organization (WHO), who praised the work of journalists in shaping the global and national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Tugumizemu’s speech was followed by a message from Dr. Ifedayo Adetifa, the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, who spoke on the role of journalism in shaping the future of health security.

The winners of the #PreventEpidemicsNaija Journalism Awards, who notably are all women, were celebrated for their courage, dedication, and commitment to journalism and for their exceptional coverage of epidemic preparedness and the need for ongoing domestic funding.

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