Niger State Commissioner for Secondary and Tertiary Health, Dr. Bello Tukur, has observed that combating health misinformation is everybody's business.
The Commissioner stated this while delivering a keynote address during the health misinformation management fellowship orientation programme, organised by Nigeria Health Watch (NHW) in collaboration with the Niger State Ministry of Primary Healthcare and that of Secondary and Tertiary Health, held at the Guidel Hotel, Minna, on Friday.
He observed that the issue of health misinformation transcends borders, beliefs, and backgrounds, and it affects every life, family, and community in the state and beyond, hence it's everybody's business.
He pointed out that the fight was critical and everybody's business because it jeopardises lives, undermines the very fabric of our healthcare system, and increases health disparities, adding that the fight was not merely a responsibility but a moral imperative because the matter is multi-faceted and cannot be fought by one entity.
He disclosed that, in keeping with the vision of Governor Umaru Bago, to use innovative solutions to move the state forward in all aspects of development, the two state health ministries were collaborating with Nigeria Health Watch to ensure that Nigerlites and Nigerians are well equipped with the tools and knowledge to make informed decisions about their health.
Dr. Tukur, who was represented at the occasion by the director of planning, research, and statistics of the ministry, Pharmacist Hamza Tijjani Yahaya, also revealed that the launch of the Niger State Health Misinformation Management Fellowship was the result of the 2022 project piloted by NHW in combating health misinformation in the state.
Earlier, the state director of public health, Dr. Ibrahim Idris, urged the fellowship members to be good ambassadors of the project and the state by saying and doing the right things.
He also disclosed that the orientation training that they will be engaged in will equip them with the right information to disseminate, urging them to pay attention to the training programme so that they will be better equipped for the task ahead.
Giving an overview of the health misinformation management fellowship programme, the NHW Director of Programmes, Dr. Kemisola Agbaoye, said the fellowship programme is a dynamic and intensive programme designed to address the challenges posed by vaccine hesitancy and the dissemination of false health information.
She explained that the fellowship was a strategic response to the rapid spread of misinformation, which poses a significant threat to public health, and that it was not an isolated endeavour but an integral component of the broader Health Misinformation Management Project.
While appreciating the partnership between NHW and the two health ministries in the state, the NHW Director of Programmes also commended the state governor for creating two ministries to manage the health sector of the state, saying it is a sign of good things that will come to the health sector of the state.
Participants in the event were drawn from the media, faith-based organisations, women and youth groups, as well as market women. The Chairman of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Niger State Chapter, Comrade Abu Nmadu, was also present at the event.
Niger State Governor, Hon. Mohammed Umaru Bago, has described the media as an indispensable entity in the institution of the rule of law and good governance in society.
The governor stated this on Friday at a retreat organised by the Niger State Government for members of the House of Representatives Press Corps, held at the Haske Luxury Hotel in Minna.
He said that without the media, the desired checks and balances in government will be a mirage and that democracy cannot thrive because the people's voices will be gagged, adding that although the legislature carries out the oversight function, the media plays a dual role in oversight and reporting to the public.
The governor, who was represented at the occasion by his deputy, Comrade Yakubu Garba, said he had a robust relationship with the media while at the National Assembly, as the criticism from the media kept him on his toes and spurred him to do more for his constituents and the nation.
"Let me state without equivocation that I am not averse to objective media criticisms because they helped in bringing out the best in me," he added.
Governnor Bago observed that the retreat could not have come at a better time as it precedes the first Green Economy Summit in Nigeria to be hosted by Niger State in a few days and that the theme of the retreat, "The role of the media in mainstreaming climate change policies," was critical to the summit, adding that whatever will be discussed and the resolutions reached during the summit, if the media did not convey them to the public, the aim of the summit would be defeated.
He observed that some of the issues on climate change were underreported by the media because they were not adequately equipped to handle such issues, believing that the retreat will offer an opportunity for the members of the legislative press to be well informed on how to set agendas for the legislature and the executive on the issue of climate change.
"I hope that at the end of this retreat, you will all be better positioned to inform, educate, and enlighten society on the implications of climate change," said the governor.
Earlier, the Chairman, House of Representatives Press Corps, Ms. Grace Ike, appreciated Governor Umar Bago for being the first to host the press corps training workshop since the return of democracy in 1999, adding that the workshop was the first of its kind.
She commended the governor for being a transformative leader who had keyed into the renewed hope agenda of the President Bola Tinubu administration and his plan to host the Green Economy Summit.
In their separate remarks, the state commissioners for environment and climate change and information and strategy, Alhaji Yakubu Kolo and Hon. Binta Mamman, urged the participants to report on climate change to get information to the grassroots.