THE Health Communicators Forum (HCF), a network of health Journalists and health communicators has been launched in Zimbabwe in a move that is set to capacitate journalists through networking with medical and public health experts as well as other regional and international health journalists network.
By Michael Gwarisa
In an interview with HealthTimes, veteran broadcaster Anna Miti, who is also the Forum’s interim chair said the HCF was already a member of other health journalists networks in the region such as the Health Journalists Network Uganda (HEJNU) and the Media for Environment, Science, Health & Agriculture (MESHA) from Kenya and another network in Zambia.
The Health Communicators Forum has been a project that has been something that we have been working on for quite a bit now. It is a network of Journalists and communicators who are interested in health.
“The reason why we are having such as forum is because we do understand that as much we have journalists who are practicing Journalism traditionally and who write health stories, it is not everybody who has enough capacity to do that, so one of our objectives is to capacitate journalists through networking with people like researchers, networking with funders and networking with even health and other scientists who then help up us to understand science and health better,” said Miti.
She added that the network would also bring health advocates who work in communities on board so as to enrich and improve the quality of health reporting.
“We also have communicators who write bulletins for their organizations and those who write health blogs. Traditionally they are excluded from health journalists or media forums because they are not deemed to be journalists but we take note that the work that they do is really in communication.
“So we have got an array of membership in our association. We have got bloggers, we have got broadcasters, we have got people who are no longer really working in mainstream media but are now doing freelancing but as senior people. The likes of Catherine Murombedzi who is more than just a journalist but is also an advocate when it comes to HIV and AIDS, we also have those who do not just write stories but they do health documentaries as well.”
She also indicated that they were people who were willing to work with the Forum in capacitating journalists as well as demystifying issues that are complicated. The board has Anna Miti as its Chairperson, Njabulo Ncube as the deputy, Catherine Murombedzi as Secretary General, Ropafadzo Mapimhidze as the deputy secretary general.
The board also has members from other provinces such as Mutare, Masvingo, Midlands and Matebeleland. The board also has committee members responsible for other initiatives such as recruitment, welfare of journalists, campaigns and fund raising among others.
“We understand that Harare is not Zimbabwe so in Bulawayo we have got Robin Muchetu who is a senior reporter and an award winning Journalist, there is Simba from Mutare, Tatenda Chitagu in Masvingo and Itai from Gweru.
“We have also realized that there are other areas that require coordination such as Journalists welfare. A number of freelance Journalists were affected quite a lot because of COVID-19 so we want to come up with ways and means of supporting one another during such times. Even in terms of welfare with regards to healthcare etc, we are also addressing that. So we have committee members in charge of welfare, in charge of recruitment, in charge of fundraising and campaigns,” said Miti.