The African media leaders forum

6-8 November 2013 | ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA

African media professionals and leaders gathered at a special panel session on ‘African Media as a Critical Partner for Human & Social Development & Improved Accountability for Health of African Women & Children’ in Addis Ababa during the 6th African Media Leaders Forum. The special Panel, supported by the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH), Afri-Dev and the Africa Coalition on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health sought to promote urgent and improved dialogue on the role of the media through an Africa regional media strategy for improving women’s and children’s health; human and social development in African.

During the session, representatives of the African media were reminded of the crucial role they must play in shaping regional and national health, human and social development priorities, particularly in promoting accountability for improved women and children’s health.

Mr Rotimi Sankore, Coordinator of the African Health, Human and Social Development (Afri-Dev) and Head of Secretariat of the Africa Coalition on Maternal newborn and Child Health reminded the media that they “represent a powerful force for change in Africa”. The media he noted “have a crucial role in advancing accountability and implementation of development commitments that will improve the health and human development of all Africans”. The fulfillment of this media role in partnership with all stakeholders will strengthen accountability in governance, raise citizen awareness of health and development issues, and enable citizens to demand from their governments implementation of health and development commitments.”

Mr Sankore explained that the poor health outcomes in Africa require not just a health only intervention rather, a multi-sectoral approach that address the health and non-health sector challenges including social determinants. He emphasized that without addressing the social determinants and other non-health sector issues that impact on health, even a 100% increase in health financing alone will still leave Africa with poor health outcomes. He solicited the support of the African Media Leaders in the development of an African Media strategy on health and development that will drive a coordinated and evidence based media response and action in Africa now and in the post 2015.

Also speaking on the panel, Dr. Luther-King Fasehun Technical and Policy Lead at The Wellbeing Foundation and representing PMNCH called for media support in the advocacy to improve investment in women and children’s health in Africa.

Dr. Fasehun indicated that investment in health is cost-effective in both the medium-term and long-term. “Hundreds of dollars invested in campaigning and provision of family planning, ante-natal care (ANC) and skilled birth attendance can save millions of dollars in direct healthcare costs and other indirect costs such as productivity losses (due to absenteeism from work). He urged that as the world counts down to the end of the Millennium Development Goals there has been no better time for Africa-based and Africa-owned media to step up to the challenge to reduce illnesses and deaths for Africa's women and children through a robust media action that promote and encourage investments in health, for the good of not only women and children, but for the overall growth and development of Africa.

The African Media Leaders Forum is an annual meeting of media owners, publishers and professionals. The 2013 forum engaged media stakeholders from all across the African continent and beyond to discuss ways the media in Africa can contribute productively to renew efforts to script a narrative about Africa that both promotes Pan Africanism and reflects the demands and expectations of the citizens of the continent.