THE United States Embassy, through support from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) recognised four Zimbabwean Journalists for outstanding contribution to HIV and AIDS reporting in Zimbabwe.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
Speaking during the awards ceremony, Jennifer Savage, Charge d, Affairs at the United States Embassy said the awards are a symbol of continued U.S commitment to ensuring that Zimbabweans had access to information about support services available to those affected by HIV.
“Your commitment to reporting on issues that affect your communities as well as solutions being implemented by our PEPFAR partners is making a positive impact on Zimbabwe.
“Since 1980, the US has continued to support the people of Zimbabwe and we are providing $150 million this year through PEPFAR. Working with Zimbabwean partners on the ground, PEPFAR provides testing, counseling, medical male circumcision, and treatment among other HIV/AIDS relief services,” she said.
PEPFAR has been supporting the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) to implement comprehensive HIV programs in Zimbabwe since 2006.
“The collaboration is geared towards attaining epidemic control in line with the UNAIDS 95-95-95 Fast track strategy which aims to ensure 95 percent of people living with HIV know their status, 95 percent of people who know their status access HIV treatment and 95 percent of people on treatment have an undetectable viral load,” said Mark Troger PEPFAR Country Coordinator.
Meanwhile, the four Journalists who were honored at the ceremony include Shamiso Yikoniko from The SundayMail who scooped the first prize in the National HIV/AIDS Reporting category while HealthTimes’s Michael Gwarisa came second in the same category. Freelance Journalist Nhau Mangirazi bagged the first prize in the HIV/AIDS Community reporting award followed by Mirirai Nsingo from the H-Metro.
Speaking to Michael, he said he was honoured to receive the award and thanked the US government and funding partners.
“I feel humbled to receive this award, it is an honor to be recognized as a reliable source of news at this age in time when fake news and sensational, alarmist reporting is order of the day, leading to distrust of online publications.
“Being recognised in the National Category meant that our works as HealThtimes are also being appreciated at a national if not international level. This is indeed an honour,” said Michael.
Officiating at the award event, Health and Child Care minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa said the Media was a critical tool in the dissemination of HIV/AIDS information and its role in informing the nation was unquestionable.
The PEPFAR Media Awards was ;launched in 2015 as a joint initiative between the Public Affairs Section and the Health Journalists Association of Zimbabwe (HEJAZ), bringing together health and science Journalists in Zimbabwe.
The partnership started with training sessions to enable journalists to accurately inform the public about ever emerging innovations and technologies people can use to stay educated on how to live a healthy life with HIV and how to prevent transmission.
The first contest concluded in 2016 and the 2017 edition marks the second session to the awards.