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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

African Healthcare Journalists Network- Concept Document

The African Healthcare Journalist Network –AHJN

CONCEPT DOCUMENT

Introduction

African Health continues to defy medical successes that have been registered in some places around Globe. Both communicable and non-communicable diseases continue to threaten the gains made in other fields, especially the field of socio-economic development. Today, halfway through the implementation of the millennium goals, Africa remains a mixed bag of success and failure. Democracy has been rooted in many countries, while conflicts continue to prevail and threats of escalation being real in countries like Sudan, Somalia and Congo. Transfer of technologies in the medical field such as new combinations for Malaria, DOT for Tuberculosis and even roll out of Anti Retroviral Therapy for Aids patients while readily available in many African states the situation on the ground remains sketchy and many times the majority of rural people remain inaccessible.
Information as has been recognised has helped to deliver some best public health results, as the recent reported reduction in child mortality can explain. But more importantly most of the communicable and non communicable diseases can be prevented if the individual self can take measures to control their diet, environment and habits.
As the continents literacy levels remain low, delivering public health information has primarily been the role of Journalists on the continent and in many cases very limited information has been given out through targeted campaigns through the media and in some cases through the programmes community health approaches.
Journalists at the lower ranks (Reporters, Producers and Cameramen) rarely do have access to detailed scientific information and in limited cases where that access is available; the information is too technical to be comprehensively covered.
Capacity limitations and policy priorities for most media organisations have also limited Journalists to fully cover Health as a priority and make it central to their work. In most media houses the health desk is a rotating cap for those interested.
For a number of specific health challenges, such as HIV and Aids, attempts have been made to bring together African Journalists in form of loose or formal network to deliver a coordinated approach in coverage of that particular challenge. Often such efforts die naturally as their has never been a formal path towards establishing a specialised African Coordinating centre to deliver latest and most accurate Health Information to the majority of rural masses.
The absence of such a coordinator has resulted in erratic and poor information delivery of public health information, emerging technologies and progress and failures in the field of Health.
As Journalists in Africa, capacity problems can compound the limited space that Health has been allocated and no investigative reporting has been readily available in the field of Health reporting.
Therefore the proposal to establish the African Healthcare Journalist Network comes to comprehensively develop a Continental coordinating centre, a lobbying voice and a capacity development institution to support Journalists embarking on Health Reporting access timely and accurate data and specialise in the fields of Health.

Vision

The Vision of the AHJN is to develop a healthy and disease free Africa through accurate and timely information provision using the media.

Mission

The AHJN shall therefore serve as a platform for Journalist in Health reporting and linkage to the Healthcare Industry on the continent and beyond to deliver health solutions through information dissemination.

Goal

The Goal of the AHJN will be to maximise Health issues coverage on the continent and compliment public health efforts in providing information to ordinary Africans.


Specific Objectives

1. Develop strong linkages between the medical, health and scientific communities and Journalist in delivering information to the public.


2. Develop capacity of Journalist covering health issues.

3. Develop a data and documentation centre for easy access to the media.

4. Create a lobbying platform for Journalists working in difficult conditions to increase coverage of Health issues by all media.

5. Provide Financial and Technical support to Health Journalists across the continent.


Membership

All African Journalists wishing to cover Health will be eligible to become members upon application and payment of a prescribed fee. All International Journalists interested in African Journalism will become associate members of the Network. Stakeholders in the Health sector will become Partners to the Network without any affiliation fees.



Structure

General Membership

All members shall meet once in every two year to receive report on the state of the
network and also provide policy insight into the operations of the network. The members shall be responsible for the election of Board members in each year when elections shall be due.

The Executive Board

Members shall elect seven Executive Board members reflecting Africa’s North, East , West, Southern, Central, the Horn of Africa and the Indian Ocean regions of Africa. These shall seat as Directors of the Network, electing a Chairperson during their First meeting to serve for a maximum two four year terms.
Two more non-Executive Board members from International Journalists and Partners will be invited to seat in the Board.
The Board shall serve as a Policy organ body, reporting to the Biennial General Conferences of the general membership.

Secretariat

Subject to availability of Funds, the AHJN shall establish a permanent secretariat headed by Executive Secretary or Coordinator to run the day to day activities of the Network.
The Coordinator shall be entrusted to implement the policy decisions of the Board and steer the Network to achieving its established goals.
The Secretariat shall design programmes, serve as a documentation centre and coordinate the activities of the network members.

Time Frame:

Concept development and consensus building:

October-November 2007
Constitution Development- 1st draft: December 1, 2007
- 2nd Draft: January 10, 2008
- Final draft and initial ratification: March 2008

Meeting’s of the Interim Board: December 2007, March, 2008

Registration of members: October 2007- April 2008

First General Conference: April 2008

Launch of Network: April 2008

Initial estimated Resource requirement

Constitution development consultant: USD 2,500.00
Communication & Coordination: 3,000.00
Interim Boards meetings (8 people) x 2 meetings 15,000.00

Grand estimated total USD 20,500.00




Contact details for the Process to Launch AHJN:

These include feedback on the Concept and Constitution suggestions. Donations or pledges should just be indicated, these will be only accepted when there is a general consensus on the need for the network:


The Interim Coordinator
The African Healthcare Journalists Network
P.O Box 1568
LILONGWE
MALAWI
Attention: Mr. Kondwani Munthali

Tel: +265 1 724 377/ 025
Home: + 265 1 797 367
Fax: +265 1 726 665
Email: kmunthali@yahoo.com or kondwani.munthali@gmail.com


Please indicate clearly on Subject line about the Formation of African Health Care Journalists Network. If you know someone who might be interested to join or assist in any way please forward them the concept.

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