Amref Health Africa hosted a media breakfast on Thursday, 10 November 2016 at the Amref Health Africa Headquarters in Nairobi. The event brought together subject-matter experts from Amref Health Africa, GlaxoSmithKline, World Health Organization, Ministry of Health and Nailab to make presentations on key thematic areas, and also interact with the media.
The media breakfast was opened by Dr Githinji Gitahi, Amref Health Africa’s Group CEO and discussions were based on Africa’s Health Agenda, in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“We are glad to have the members of the fourth estate with us today, as we believe that the media play a key role in regard to health issues. Amref Health Africa has identified five core SDGs, and aligned its strategies to these five SDGs that all affect health in one way or another. We are keen on SDGs 2, Zero Hunger; SDG 3, Good Health and Wellbeing; SDG 5, Gender Equality; SDG 6, Clean Water and Sanitation; and SDG 17, Partnerships for the Goals,” Dr Gitahi stated.
Dr Githinji called on to the members of the press to serve as the public eye on SDGs and push the government to make viable policies on the same. “I find it very interesting that in Rwanda, 90% of citizens have health insurance, whereas in Kenya, the percentage is lower than 25%. We can directly point to lack of policies, and lack of pushing for implementation of policies, for this. Indeed, it is the role of the government to make these health policies, but it is the job of the media to push the government to realise their mandate,” he explained further.
Also present during the media breakfast was Sam Gichuru, the CEO of Nailab, who was enthusiastic about involving the youth in realising the SDGs. “The youth should drive the process as they are the majority in the country. I am happy to partner with Amref Health Africa to realise the SDGs and our partnership is just the first step towards sustainable development of health services through innovation,” he stated.
Victoria Kimotho, the Regional Programmes Directorate at Amref Health Africa Headquarters, asserted that the Africa Health Agenda International Conference, scheduled for next year, will have a parallel youth conference. “We have also been working with Nailab, who are part of the planning committee to have a hackathon during the AHAIC,” she confirmed.
Bridget Wachira, the Managing Director of GlaxoSmithKline Kenya, was also present during the event. She elaborated on the need for the media to focus on health on a wider scope, and not just on some health issues. “The media has continually focused on some diseases such as HIV/AIDs and Malaria and failed to capture other issues in health,” she observed. Her sentiments were shared with Regina Mbindyo, the WHO representative also present at the event.
Dr Meshack Ndirangu, the Amref Health Africa in Kenya Country Director, gave the media the go ahead to reach out to Amref Health Africa for guidance on health issues as recorded by the International NGOs data. “Feel free to come to us for whatever information you might need, as we are here to give it,” he affirmed.
The members of the press were keen on how messages and information would be packaged to suit the general public, in a way that was easy to understand. “We are in the process of developing the Africa Health Media Network, which will be crucial in determining the best and most effective ways of disseminating information about health issues to the general public,” explained Betty Muriuki, Amref Health Africa’s Communication Manager. Her sentiments were re-affirmed by Dr Gitahi who stated that Amref Health Africa and partners were also in the process of conceptualising an Amref Health Journalists Award for Africa.
In closing, Dr Festus Ilako, the Directorate of Health Programme Development, firmly stated that health was everyone’s business, and that the best investment one can ever make, is on their health.
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