By: Chioma Umeha
The Nigeria Guinea worm Eradication Programme (NIGEP) has announced the extension of deadline by three months, for the submission of entries to the Media Merit Award on guinea worm eradication, to allow more journalists to participate. Entries will now close on September 30, instead of June 30. The award was put in place in April to recognise, honour and reward contributions by Nigerian journalists and their media establishments, in the eradication of guinea worm disease since the campaign began in 1988. The award, in three categories – radio, television and newspaper/online publication, was announced as part of media activities preparatory to the visit of the International Certification Team from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The team is expected in Nigeria on Sunday, June 23. A statement in Abuja on Sunday by the NIGEP National Coordinator, Mrs Ifeoma Anagbogu, noted that although many entries had been received, the programme realised two months’ duration too short and could shut out more journalists from participating. Anagbogu thanked journalists across the country for their sustained interests in ensuring that the war against guinea worm disease is won, and the certification of Nigeria as a guinea worm-free country is achieved. The WHO-Certification team will be in the country for more than two weeks and will go round the states to verify the claim of non-existence of the disease for more than four years as the last guinea worm was reported on Nov. 11, 2008.
The National Coordinator stated that as in earlier case, entries for the merit award should include feature articles, analyses, in-depth investigative stories, documentaries or discussion programmes. “Stories must be well-researched, well written and well-presented, to be supported, among others, by data, mapping, audio and visual presentations. “Topics may include “Achieving WHO certification for guinea worm disease eradication in Nigeria,’’ “Surveillance and publicity for guinea worm disease certification in Nigeria,’’ and “Status of guinea worm disease eradication activities in Nigeria: the Way Forward.’’ “Others may include “End in sight as Nigeria gets certification for guinea worm disease eradication by WHO,’’ and “55 months of guinea worm disease status in Nigeria: what next?’’
The coordinator said: “All journalists qualify, including affiliated freelance journalists and submitted work must have been broadcast or published in the print and electronic media. Journalists may submit more than one entry, and entries submitted could be posted on Twitter and Facebook by applicants’’.
Anagbogu said that all entries must be submitted to the National Coordinator, Nigeria Guinea worm Eradication Programme (NIGEP) Federal Ministry of Health, (9th Floor), Federal Secretariat, Abuja. It will be recalled that at the inception of the eradication programme in 1988, 653,620 guinea worm cases were identified in 5,879 villages across the country. While it ravaged, guinea worm contributed to rural poverty depressingly affecting agricultural production, incapacitating the affected people and causing school absenteeism in children. Meanwhile, the programme is still encouraging people to search and report cases of guinea worm. They will be rewarded with N25,000 cash for any confirmed case, while people could also call on a toll-free line: 0800 100 1000.
Global eradication effort will make guinea worm the second disease to be eradicated, the first being small pox.
This story was published in Newswatch Times on June 27, 2013.