Published: Thursday, 18 January 2018 15:02

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FOCUS 1000 Web and Data Manager Sallieu Sesay on Thursday 18th January 2017, witnessed the official launched of Health Accountability Network of Journalists under the project “Increasing Media Capacity in Sierra Leone to Monitor and Oversee Health Care Services.” The launching took place at the British Council Auditorium on Thursday 18th January, 2018.

The Initiative for Media Development (IMDEV) with funds from UNICEF and USAID has set up the network of health accountability journalists which was launched by the Minister of Information and Communication Alpha Kanu.

The Chairman of the Board of of IMDEV Madam Memunatu Pratt revealed that “the role of the media in governance and accountability cannot be overemphasized as in any democratic dispensation, the media is considered as the forth estate, which means the media is core in performing its role in health accountability and transparent government.”

A group of 150 media practitioners have been trained across the country to perform health accountability role by educating citizens on how they should enhance their voices in accountability in the governance processes and creates a platform for exchange of information between citizens and government. This group of journalists will be monitoring the distribution and utilization of health support, work closely with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation and other related bodies and organization in ensuring proper and effective health service delivery for the people of Sierra Leone. Furthermore, the group would also monitor the effective distribution of drugs and health service delivery at all levels.

These journalists have received training to facilitate, produce and manage health sector governance content, especially radio programmes. They have started the production of a national Programme re-broadcast on radio stations across the country on health issues. The project is supporting 20 community radio stations to produce regular health programming, including in-community recording for over 200 individual programmers.

Other important guests at the launch were, the UNICEF Sierra Leone Representative Dr. Hamid El-Bashir Ibrahim, National Coordinator Independent Media Network (IRN) Ransford Wright, President of Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) Kelvin Lewis, and Media Reform Coordinator Group (MRCG) been represented by Theo Harding from the Guile of Editors.

It is worth to note that FOCUS 1000 has Kombra Media Network (KMN) which was established on 13th March 2015 after training sessions conducted by FOCUS 1000 on Scaling-Up Nutrition and Immunization (GAVI). The Network’s key objective is to report on issues related to heath like nutrition, immunization and other health-related issues as well as sensitize the public for positive behaviour and social change.