The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, disclosed this at the PTF briefing on Tuesday in Abuja.

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, says the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has increased media literacy of adults and young people in Nigeria.

According to him, access to understanding and creating communication with both traditional and new media platforms such as text messaging, social networking and mobile phone is commonplace.

Ehanire said this at a media parley and dissemination of the Nigeria Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child Adolescent and Elderly Health Plus Nutrition (RMNCAEH+N), 2021 Annual Operation Plan, on Tuesday in Abuja.

The event was a high-level platform called “the RMNCAEH+N, a multi- stakeholder partnership coordination platform.

Ehanire said that statistics indicated that in January 2020, the percentage of users of the various media platforms in the country were as follows: 169.2 million (83%) mobile connections users; 85.49 million (42%) internet users, and 27.00 million (13%) social media users.

“In today’s technology driven world, access to latest news is at the touch of a button on television or radio, even while commuting to the workplace or school.

“We freely exchange information with friends, relatives, business partners and clients around the world.

“Effective communication through mass media, can therefore be used to heighten awareness of Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent and Elderly Health plus Nutrition as topics for public discussion, and to influence legislation and resource allocation for issues like:

“i. awareness of where to access Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent and Elderly Health and Nutrition health services, to develop appropriate, safe care-seeking behaviour.

“ii. change cultural practices such as female genital mutilation and promote hygiene and health practices that improve uptake of health services”.

According to him, the ministry will be able to build on the success of the media engagement obtained to institutionalise traditional and social media platforms to share information and for community participation, and risk communication.

“When finalised, the Health-in-Media Coalition Charter will be presented to Chief Executives of Media Institutions for endorsement at the national level as well as adaptation at subnational level,” he explained.

The minister, however, reminded the media that population health management was a collective responsibility requiring partnership with the media sector.

This would foster effective use of media platforms to increase health literacy and promote safe, care-seeking behaviour on issues surrounding the health and wellbeing of women, children, adolescents and the elderly in the country.

The Minister of State for Health, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora, had earlier underscored the critical role of media in generating awareness on the issues of public interest.

Mamora however appreciated the media and other stakeholders in the country for their continuous contributions.

In her remarks, the Cross River Commissioner for Health, Dr Betta Edu, who spoke on behalf of Commissioners for Health Forum, urged the media to take health advocacy to the grassroots so that they would not be left behind.

Edu, however, charged the media to come up with a strategy on how they can reach the grassroots.

NAN reports that the platform has a wide cross-sector membership, including but not limited to governments, parliamentarians, media, regulatory bodies, philanthropists and donors.

Other members were drawn from development organisations, academia and professional bodies, pressure groups, traditional and religious institutions, private sector, women groups and civil society.

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