Some media practitioners and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) officials have emphasised on capacity building of their members and legislators to report and monitor the attainment of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the country.
The officials shared their views in an interview with Nigeria News Agency in Abuja, after the just concluded Legislative Summit UCH.
Mrs Ifeyinwa Omowole, National President, Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), emphasised on capacity building for journalist to be able to interpret, understand and report UHC.
“If you need people to interpret whatever you are doing, you need to first educate and build their capacity to be able to understand.
“If they don’t understand you, they will be misquote you and misinform the public,’’ she said.
According to her, anyone who wants to cover the health beat should get trained because they are trends in the health sector on a daily basis.
Omowole said the media had a lot of role to play in democracy, saying “the role of the media is to interpret the work of the legislature to the masses.
“For the media to effectively do that, they need to interpret what Universal Health Coverage (UHC) is about?
“They need to know the effort of the legislators to achieve it and where to access health care facility.
“From the first step, the legislators have to involve the media; they have to help build the capacity of media to understand the bill they want to pass.
“When they understand it, it will be easier for them to interpret for the masses,’’ she said.
In her views with NAN, Ms Chioma Kanu, Programme Manager Health, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) said that the nature of CSOs made them to be in a better place to engage the legislators and the citizens.
“We realised that there is a wide gap between the CSOs, the citizens and the legislators; the role of CSOs is continuous advocate to fill the gap.
“Also, the CSOs have a role of monitoring the programmes of the legislators, but unfortunately some citizens are not aware of some of the programmes.
“In addition, we also expect the CSOs to build the capacity of the legislators; we understand that their job is not a career one.
“We expect CSOs to build the capacity of those newly elected legislators so that they will begin to understand the developmental issues.
“For Instance, they need to understand, the Basic Health Provision Fund (BHPF) and once they do, they will be able to do their work effectively,’’ she said.
Also speaking, Ms Mary Ajakaye, an official of Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) said, the CSOs were meant to be the voice for the voiceless.
“We are to serve as a bridge between the legislators and the public.
“We are to bring synergy to whatever the legislators are to doing; they should carry the CSOs along to be able to be their foot soldier,” she said.
Sen. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, in his closing remarks at the summit, said the media and CSOs needed to build their own capacity.
“I see deficit in capacity of Civil Society operating, particularly for media – media don’t have capacity to help the system, I am saying this with due respect,’’ he said.
Oloriegbe said the media and CSOs should have the knowledge to set health agenda of the legislators and inform the citizens about it.
“For instance, the Basic Health Provision Fund we are talking about, the guideline did not go in line with the law.
“We did not see any CSOs and media bring the two of us — Legislature and Executive to book and inform the citizens about it,’’ he said.
He, however, called for more coordination and continuous engagement among the legislators, media and CSOs to achieve UHC.
The three- day health summit organised by the Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage ended on Friday with more commitment by the national and state lawmakers to achieve UHC in the country.
The theme of the summit is “Efficiency in the Health Sector and the Role of Legislators in a Decentralised Democracy”.
UHC means that all people and communities can use the preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need and ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship.
Edited by Saidu Adamu/Kayode Olaitan
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