Ministry of Health Hosts Inaugural Town Hall for Media Practitioners

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By Foday Moriba Conteh

On Monday, June 24, 2024, the Ministry of Health (MoH) held its first-ever Town Hall Event for media practitioners at the Family Kingdom Hall. Organized by the MoH Communications Unit, the event aimed to foster collaboration between the Ministry and the media to ensure that every Sierra Leonean receives the necessary healthcare.

An official, Brima, representing the Communications Unit of MoH, emphasized the deliberate effort to organize the Town Hall event, highlighting the intertwined roles of the Ministry and the media in healthcare delivery.

Khalil Kallon, Executive Secretary of the Independent Media Commission (IMC), introduced the distinguished Chairman for the event, Dr. Isaac Massaquoi, a Senior Lecturer and Community Developer. Dr. Massaquoi noted the evolving media landscape and encouraged journalists to cover the positive aspects of events.

Theo Harding, Chairman of the Guild of Newspaper Editors, stressed the crucial role of health journalism in national development. He discussed challenges such as resource constraints, social media and Government policies emphasizing the media’s role in public education and healthcare efficiency.

Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), expressed gratitude to MoH for building a relationship with the media. He highlighted past collaborations, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic and urged for more attention from media practitioners towards MoH activities. He criticized the bureaucratic obstacles journalists face and the preferential treatment given to bloggers, calling for transparency and mutual respect.

Joseph E. Kapuwa, Chairman of the IMC, emphasized the importance of a robust partnership between MoH and the media, upholding media ethics and fostering open dialogue.

Madam Jestina Taylor, President of WIMSAL, called for more women in health journalism, noting the unique perspective female journalists bring as caregivers. She stressed the need for better access to Government officials for reporting on health issues.

Chernor Bah, Minister of Information and Civic Education, acknowledged the challenges in the health sector and the vital role of the media in bridging the trust deficit between the public and Government officials. He urged journalists to focus on positive reporting and highlighted the importance of strong partnerships for national progress.

Dr. Austin Demby, Minister of Health, underscored the media’s role in holding the health sector accountable and outlined ongoing efforts to improve healthcare. He discussed initiatives such as universal health coverage, reducing child mortality, and ensuring health security.

The Town Hall meeting concluded with participatory sessions and debates between media stakeholders and journalists, fostering a collaborative atmosphere for future engagements.


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