Pictures: NHW, NGSG train 25 health misinformation management fellowship members

Nigeria Health Watch (NHW) in collaboration with Niger state government, through its ministry of primary healthcare and that of secondary and tertiary health, has completed a three-day intensive capacity building training for the 25 newly inaugurated state health misinformation management fellowship members.

The three days training programme which took place at the Niger state office of the National Programme on Immunization (NPI), known as Epic Unit in Minna, between October 23 and 25, 2023, preceded the inauguration of the fellowship members, at Guidel Hotel, Minna, last Friday.

The fellowship members were engaged in series of activities to empower them with the relevant information and skills that will enable them function effectively while on the field as change agents of the health misinformation management project in the state.

The participants at the training were engaged in lectures, group activities, presentation of group work, as well as practical demonstration on some of the approaches to adopt while identifying and addressing health misinformations, with the aim of curbing the spread of misinformation on health related issues.

The overall objective of the programme, according to organisers, was to build a community that is informed, resilient, and empowered in the face of health misinformation.

Declaring the training open, the deputy director, disease control in the state ministry of secondary and tertiary health, Dr. Ibrahim Na’Allah, said the health sector was the chief beneficiary of the programme and their joy was immeasurable.

He disclosed that they were so stressed up trying to manage health misinformation in the state, especially the department of public health, hoping that with the training health misinformation will soon be a thing of the past in the state.

He urged the participants to be focused and pay attention to all the knowledge shared during training so that they can become well informed to carry out their assignment effectively as change agents of health misinformation.

Okechi Nzedibe is one of the five World Health Organization (WHO) certified Infodemic managers in Nigeria, and while sharing her knowledge on health misinformation with the participants said the WHO has keen interest in the programme and is aware of the programme going on in the state, urging them to take the training serious.

She observed that during outbreaks, health experts finds it difficult to manage the situation due to the overload of misinformation on the health issue at hand which she said was even more dangerous than the health challenge, adding that the training was very important to the health sector.

Nzedibe added that lack of sufficient accurate information breeds rumour which graduates into misinformation, and Infodemic sets in, appealing to the participants to be the change agents that will assist in curbing health misinformation.

While giving a vote of thanks at the closing ceremony of the three days training programme, the assistant state disease surveillance notification officer in Niger state, Mr. Uriah Mamudu, appreciated the participants for their commitment to the programme.

He equally urged them to go into the field and share the knowledge they acquired during the training programme, as well as to be good ambassadors of the state and NHW.

The team of facilitators at the training programme, led by Abara Erim (Programme Coordinator, NHW), Solomon Oladimeji (Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Coordinator), Sunday Oko (Programme Assistant) and Sonia Biose, all expressed satisfaction with the level of commitment and participation from the participants during the training programme, declaring that learning had taken place due to the improvement in the result of the post training test compared to that of pre-training test.