NHW, Niger Govt graduates Health Misinformation Management Fellows

By Abubakar Hassan

Nigeria Health Watch (NHW) and Niger state government through the state ministries of primary healthcare and secondary and tertiary healthcare have graduated 25 fellows of the state cohort one Health Misinformation Management fellowship.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony held at Haske Luxury Hotel, Minna on Tuesday, the state Commissioner for secondary and tertiary health, Dr. Bello Tukur said the fellowship program was important to the state health sector because it will help in curbing health misinformation in the state.

He observed that a misinformed individual is more dangerous than an uninformed person and appreciated the NHW for identifying the gap because it was important to pass the right information to the public at all times.

Dr. Tukur said the damage misinformation can cause was more severe than the lack of information, reflecting on how people were made to bathe and drink salt water which led to the death of hypertensive persons.

He said the fellows will serve as vanguards for the health ministries who will help in the dissemination of the right information to the public, expressing optimism that the state will have successful public health programs this year with the help of the fellows.

The Commissioner added that there are a lot of activities lined up in the state for the year 2024, promising that the door of the ministry will be wide open for the fellows, disclosing that they were working behind the scenes to ensure a smooth recruitment of 1,000 health workers approved by the Governor, Farmer Mohammed Umar Bago.

He explained further that the creation of the ministries for primary healthcare and of secondary and tertiary health was not for competition but for effective and efficient service delivery, adding that they have one health team in the state working with one goal of ensuring Niger state citizens have qualitative healthcare services.

While congratulating NHW and the graduates for the successful completion of the fellowship program, the Commissioner promised that they would accord them all the necessary support to effectively discharge their duties.

Similarly, the state Commissioner for primary healthcare, Dr. Ibrahim Dangana who was represented by Dr. Ahmed Abdulsalam was excited about the program and that the fellows would serve as soldiers disseminating the right health information.

He believed that with the nature of training received by the fellows, there will be a pool of local experts that will assist officials in the health sector of the state when the need arises.

In her remarks, the Director of programs NHW, Dr. Kemisola Agbaoye said NHW was overwhelmed with the level of commitment of the fellows towards the success of the cohort one program and that they were proud of them.

She disclosed that they were already in talks with the state ministries of primary healthcare and secondary and tertiary health on how to institutionalize the project and get the fellows integrated into the already existing structure of community mobilization and rumour management in the state.

Dr. Kemisola added that looking forward to supporting the state to include other cohorts that have to do with healthcare workers, health educators, service providers, regulatory agencies, and all those who were part of the need assessment identified.

She appreciated the fellows for all the efforts they have put into the project and also the state government through the ministries of primary healthcare and secondary and tertiary health for their partnership and support.

In his goodwill message, the Emir Of Minna, Dr. Umar Farouk Bahago who was represented by Mabuɗin Minna, Alhaji Abubakar Bosso observed that the NHW had done a good job and urged the fellows to be more committed, even as he advised the government and NGOs go through the traditional leaders while introducing any new vaccine which according to him will gain more acceptance from the people.

Earlier in his overview of the cohort one program, the state epidemiologist, Dr. Patrick Gimba said the fellowship program was designed to empower the participants with skills to effectively identify and address health misinformation in the state, their communities, and workplaces and to foster strategic partnership among stakeholders.

He added that the fellowship program was heterogeneous as the graduands were drawn from various organizations such as the media, the religious and traditional institutions, the market women, the youths, as well as the people living with disabilities.

Maryam Mohammed Dalhatu who spoke on behalf of other fellows appreciated NHW and the Niger state government for the opportunity to upgrade her knowledge and to serve humanity, promising that she will continue to preach the gospel of dishing out the right health information.

Some fellows who distinguished themselves during the fellowship program were presented with awards.

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