By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
Journalists can do a lot to change the statistics of 2,300 under the age of five children in Nigeria dying of malnutrition annually.
Lecturer, Kaduna State University, Dr. Ayodele Joseph, made the appeal while presenting a paper titled: ‘Role of Media In Tackling Malnutrition in Kaduna State’ at the two-day workshop on malnutrition organised by the Kaduna State Emergency Nutrition Action Plan (KADENAP) for journalists in the state on Friday in Zaria.
He explained that in doing this, journalists have to be passionate about writing reports about malnutrition.
“There must be passion from the journalists in unraveling things that will engineer progress.
We are at risk of losing destinies that would mold this country,” he said.
Dr. Joseph emphasized that the media must set agenda advocating importance of good nutrition, and reaching out to families affected.
“Advocate health and nutrition behaviour such as promotion of breast feeding, hand washing and importance of safe drinking water.
“Influence families to dispel myths, taboos and urging them to adopt positive practices,” he added.
The communication specialist further advised that disseminating information about government programmes to enable better utilisation of services should also be passed on to the public.
“Media must create awareness about malnutrition and communicate scientific knowledge on how to tackle it,” he added.
The lecturer emphasized that the over six million children under five who stunted in growth due to malnutrition was unacceptable, hence the need for media to be voracious in their approach.
“A journalist should have integrity, be curiosity/ observant, accurate in reports as well as have empathy,” he added.
He submitted that though they may encounter some challenges like inexperience in understanding some key terminologies, they can surmount such through trainings.
“Tradition may also be a challenge you will encounter while reporting malnutrition, because some hold on to myths and taboos which you must disabuse from their minds.
“Similarly, finance constraint is another challenge you may encounter in the course of embarking on investigative reporting but that too can be tackled through key partnerships with relevant stakeholders.
“You may also encounter difficulties in access to relevant information that would further reduce the scourge of malnutrition. This can be solved by getting contacts of some key stakeholders. As a reporter, you should be prepared to keep your spiurce confidential, even when facing death threats,” he said.