HEALTHTIMES editor Michael Gwarisa bagged the outstanding National Aids Council HIV Media Reporter Of The Year award on Monday.
By Kuda Pembere and Nyasha Murwira
There were three winners on each side of the electronic and print media with the publication’s editor acing the much coveted outstanding journalist award.
“I am grateful to God Almighty for giving me the energy to write. I am also grateful to my family especially my wife who supports me through and through. She supports my work. When I started health reporting, it was something she was confused about but now she really understands it and supports the vision. I thank my family so much especially my wife. I also want to thank Mr Pembere, he is a supporting pillar to this project called HealthTimes. Without him it could have folded way back,” said Gwarisa.
He also expressed his gratitude to the National Aids Council, Government and adjudicators for this recognition.
“The media landscape is big in Zimbabwe. We have the mainstream media that is the electronic and print. But for an online media like us to be nominated and become an outstanding winner, to become the biggest winner of the award. Its quite an honour. We don’t take that lightly. We believe everything happens for a reason and this is our moment to grab it. As for the award that’s what I can say,” Gwarisa said.
The HealthTimes editor narrated the journey and motivation for outstanding HIV/AIDS health reporting.
“Ever since we started in early 2017, we have been working hard to ensure health reporting is given its rightful place in Zimbabwe. If you look closely in the mainstream media, there is some health reportage by publications, these news outlets focus much on politics, business news and what not. “But they only give priority to health news when there is a crisis. But we are saying no, we shouldn’t report about health and HIV, these are daily things we experience. So we have been working hard. I would say 95 percent of my reporting is HIV/AIDS reporting.
“So we have bagged the award and I really look forward to even getting a global award regarding HIV reporting because that’s my passion. I want conversation around HIV/AIDS to be ongoing. It shouldn’t stop just because probably there are gains that have been achieved. The work is still there.
“We need to work towards achieving Universal Health Access or Universal Health Coverage. We can only do that by informing people. The communities affected by HIV. They should know how to handle their situation. They should know about new regimens. I would say it was a well-deserved award and I tell you we are not stopping from here from here on end,” he said.
To those who did not make it, he encouraged the journalists not to lose heart saying health reporting is not a competition but a mission.
“To other journalists, I say don’t lose heart, there is always next time. Don’t report for awards. Report to ensure that this world becomes a better, healthy, HIV free place. This is our country, Zimbabwe. This is what we can say we have. When reporting about HIV, let’s encourage better health seeking services among the populace. Let’s make sure we attain UHC. We can achieve that through accurate and factual information to the people,” Gwarisa said.
Nominees were selected through media monitoring with adjudicators from the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, NAC, and the Presidential Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) involved in selecting of the winners.
NAC introduced these awards to reward journalists in print and electronic media for extentisive, passionate, passionate, consistent, responsible and factual reporting on stories of HIV/AIDS, Cancer and other related diseases.
“Individuals can go faster but toger we travel further, that’s what we want in the national response to HIV,’ said NAC Acting CEO Mr Albert Manenji speaking on behalf of health and Child Care Dr Obadiah Moyo. “As we have noted we are also honoring the media personnel who have done exceptionally well. what is exciting and encouraging is the improvement done in this area. the way the stories were written and put to the public before was stigmatising but today we are quite sure this has improved greatly”
Over 100 articles were reviewed and among elements paying particular attention to sensitive language, facts, human element, quoted sources and relevance to policies and issues.
Instead of calling for nominations and submissions of articles NAC, monitored both electronic and print media articles throughout the year 2018.