NAN Health Journalist Recognised For Outstanding Work In Epidemic Prevention Reporting

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The managing director of Nigeria Health Watch, Mrs Vivianne Ihekweazu presenting an award to a senior health journalist with the News Agency of Nigeria, Ms. Racheal Abujah, at the 2024 Nigerian Healthcare Excellence Award.

Ms. Racheal Abujah, a senior health journalist with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), has been recognised for her exceptional reporting on epidemic prevention, receiving the 2024 Media Award on Epidemic Prevention in Nigeria.

The award was presented on Friday in Lagos State at the 2024 Nigerian Healthcare Excellence Award (NHEA), themed “Navigating Tomorrow: Accelerating Strategies for Healthcare Transformation.” Science Nigeria reports that NHEA is an initiative of the Global Health Project and Resources in partnership with the Anadach Group, celebrating individuals and organisations that have significantly contributed to the growth of the Nigerian health sector.

NHEA’s recognition aims to stimulate quality improvement and innovation in the Nigerian health sector, leading to better service delivery, improved management of key health issues and the capacity of individuals to set new performance standards in Nigeria and beyond.

Abujah, a multiple award winner, secured the Nigeria Health Watch Prevent Epidemic Award in the Print/Online News category for her story titled “Counting the Cost: Epidemic Preparedness Budget in Nigeria.” She competed in this category alongside the health editor of Daily Trust newspaper, Mrs. Ojoma Akor; Mr. Usman Mustapha, a solution journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting; Mr. Mustafa Salisu Yakubu, a reporter with Arewa Agenda and Mr. Arinze Chijoke, a freelance multimedia journalist.

Abujah’s award-winning article provided a comprehensive assessment of Nigeria’s health security, highlighting critical findings and recommendations. The article identified significant challenges such as inadequate funding, gaps in healthcare infrastructure, and weaknesses in disease surveillance systems, which collectively undermine Nigeria’s ability to respond effectively to health emergencies. It also underscored the urgent need for increased investment in healthcare, improvements in disease surveillance and stronger public-private partnerships. She called on the government and private sector to address these recommendations, as they are crucial to fortifying the country’s health security against future outbreaks and ensuring sustainable development.

Prof. Uche Amazigo, a parasitologist and public health specialist, was honoured with the NHEA Lifetime Achievement Award for her exemplary contribution to global health, particularly in Africa. Amazigo, with over 70 scientific articles in international journals, has influenced public health and community empowerment, inspiring progress in the fight against neglected tropical diseases.

Executive medical director of Regions Healthcare Hospital in Owerri, Imo State, Dr. Benjamin Anyanwu was specially recognised for his dedication to improving neurological care and his pioneering work in stroke treatment. Dr. Fedelis Akhagboso Anyebea received a Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions to healthcare and his dedication to improving Nigeria’s pharmaceutical industry.

Nigeria Health Watch received an Excellence Award for its continuous advocacy and communication efforts to enhance access to quality healthcare for all Nigerians. Leadway Health Limited, a subsidiary of Leadway Holdings and a sister company of Leadway Assurance Company Limited, was named the 2024 HMO of the Year.

NHEA project director, Dr. Wale Alabi noted that NHEA started in 2014 and has become a high-profile event in the healthcare industry, gaining wide acceptance from stakeholders in both public and private sectors. “The awards highlight the rapid growth of the healthcare sector, the transformative role of technology, and the ability of organisations and individuals to set new performance standards in Nigeria and beyond. The theme of this year’s event aligned with the country’s healthcare transformation agenda, spotlighting and recognising stakeholders, facilities, and organisations that have significantly contributed to the healthcare sector. With a decade of impactful existence, NHEA continues to elevate the standards of healthcare services,” he said.

Alabi highlighted the significance of the partnership with Nigeria Health Watch, acknowledging the critical role of journalists in epidemic preparedness and response. “The ‘Prevent Epidemics Journalism Award’ honours outstanding reporting that raises the bar for healthcare journalism standards in the country,” he said.

Managing director of Nigeria Health Watch, Mrs. Vivianne Ihekweazu explained that this year, Nigeria Health Watch partnered with NHEA to organise the ‘Special Prevent Epidemics Journalism Award.’ “This initiative, under the Prevent Epidemics Project with the support of the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), recognises outstanding journalism in health security or epidemic preparedness and response across print, television and radio categories. The award acknowledges journalists who have raised awareness among the public and policymakers about the importance of funding epidemic preparedness and response, inspiring them to continue their vital role in safeguarding the country’s health security,” she said.

Earlier, the chairman of the advisory board of NHEA, Mr. Anthony Omolola said the selection process included comprehensive evaluations by NHEA’s verification team, with over 52,000 online votes received. Omolola said the votes “underscored the competitive spirit and high standards” that define the NHEA, adding that the highlights for the 2024 edition include the introduction of new award categories reflecting a dynamic and evolving approach. “This year’s nominations feature new categories demonstrating our commitment to recognising emerging trends and achievements in the health sector,” he said. “Another highlight is the emphasis on public health, neuroscience and drug manufacturing. The lifetime achievement and special recognition awards highlight the exemplary and influential work of respected Nigerians in the healthcare ecosystem.”

Omolola added that the award was in collaboration with Deloitte, and it seeks to foster ongoing collaborations with winners and nominees post-events. “These collaborations across various platforms will further enhance and deepen the work of our partners, driving continued excellence in the healthcare ecosystem,” he said.

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