IAWRT Tanzania members met under the theme: Media and Covid 19: Vaccination and its impact on Women.
The International Association of Women in Radio and Television (IAWRT)-Tanzania Chapter held its first activity on 27th November 2021 through the Zoom platform. The activity, a training session, symbolized the revival of the Chapter after a long period of inactivity. The members met under the theme: Media and Covid 19: Vaccination and its impact on Women.
Over 48 female journalists from different media organizations participated in the training during which they learned about the ideas on how to prevent Covid-19 and its subsequent remedies for the betterment of society.
IAWRT Tanzania Chapter President Fatuma Matulanga and IAWRT Tanzania Board Member Raziah Mwawanga co-chaired the two-hour training session. Different topics on Covid-19 were covered by experts from various sectors including those from the University of Dar es Salaam, Ministry of Health (Tanzania Mainland as well as Zanzibar). Specialists from Khoja Leadership Forum also graced the session.
As a moderator, Matulanga kick-started the occasion by defining IAWRT and its role in society with its connection to female media practitioners and women in general. The aim of such a background was to prepare the participants to understand the purpose of the training session.
Matulanga further expressed the hope that the training would create awareness for female journalists on the issues surrounding Covid-19 and that such knowledge would later be imparted on the local masses. Topics on Covid-19 vaccination and other remedial measures were also tackled.
In his elaborate presentation, Dr. Ali Said Nyanga Director of Prevention and Health Education from Zanzibar Health Ministry outlined measures by the Government of Zanzibar in the combating Covid-19 pandemic. Among other areas, Dr. Nyanga disclosed that the Government of Zanzibar had put in place measures that ensured that vaccines were readily available in villages and other community set-ups for citizens to easily access them.
The Director also hinted that civic education was being pursued for people to get acquainted on the proper use of face masks, keeping social distance, using sanitizers, regular hand washing, and vaccination.
Another paper was presented by Lotalis Gadau, an officer for Immunization Program and Vaccine Development from Tanzania Ministry of Health. Gadau emphatically stated that the Government remained committed to ensuring that all Tanzanians were safe from Covid 19. She said Government through the Ministry of Health was actively educating the people on preventive measures and the importance of taking the Covid-19 vaccination.
She elaborated that civic education was being carried out through various media platforms; not least amongst them: community gatherings, radio and TV programs, brochures, and social media among others.
Dr. Riyaz Hassanali, the Vaccine Coordinator for Khoja Leadership Forum also contributed during the Zoom meeting. The United States-based, Dr. Hassanali who also coordinated the vaccination programme in Zanzibar in 2021 observed that 100-percent of the Shia Community successfully got vaccinated.
In turn, said Dr. Hassanali the Forum moved on to other communities with civic education and vaccination with more doses freely donated. Dr. Hassanali, however, noted despite efforts to reach out to as many people as possible, the challenge of negativity and wrong perception prevailed; and this led to slow progress.
He disclosed that by November 2021, about 25,000 doses of Sputnik Vaccine were distributed and administered in Zanzibar; thanks to civic education and proper coordination. Further, Dr. Hassanali challenged female journalists to take a leading role in raising vibrant awareness on issues related to the Covid-19 vaccination.
The importance of Covid-19 vaccines that helps to strengthen the immune system was tackled by a lecturer from the University of Dar es Salaam. A biologist himself, Dr. Daniel Maeda warned that those who were denying vaccination were putting their lives at risk. He however observed that issues of denial for vaccines were not new in society because they historically existed for over 200 years when people refused to take small pox vaccine. But he said the most important thing was for female journalists to educate the people on the importance of the Covid-19 vaccine.
“So, I strongly advise you, female journalists, to cooperate with the Government and other key stakeholders in pursuing an energetic and effective civic education drive for people to get vaccinated against Covid 19” he remarked.
Rashid Kejo, Executive Editor of Mwananchi Communication (newspaper), and Rose Haji Mwalimu, a Communications expert jointly observed how stranded journalists were at the time Covid-19 broke out in Tanzania in 2019.
Kejo noted how sketchy Covid-19 information became when the pandemic broke out and how uncertain journalists became over this. Kejo noted that with a lack of proper information, journalists could not obtain proper statistics that would help me to accurately write their stories.
In her contribution, Rose Mwalimu said currently the situation is different because the society has almost opened up and experts are able to talk to the media about Covid-19; and that this has helped the female journalists to produce some stories on Covid-19. She also hailed the stand taken by the current Government of Tanzania for its keenness in dealing with the pandemic.
And later in her remarks, IAWRT President Fatuma Matulanga called for joint efforts in dealing with Covid-19. Matulanga urged female journalists in Tanzania to work in collaboration with other stakeholders to achieve the intended goal. She noted that vaccination is important because as disclosed by health specialists, vaccination lowers new risks of infection by over 96-percent.
Participants in the Zoom training session provided feedback with over seventy-five percent of them describing it as an excellent move. They hailed it not only as fruitful but also as an eye-opener. This, therefore, means that IAWRT Tanzania Chapter succeeded in training female journalists on matters of Covid-19 pandemic by providing them with relevant knowledge and skills.
The first IAWRT activity has been described as a victory for the chapter leadership as well as the general membership. The Chapter also looks forward to having more of such events in the near future; with a diversified touch when even foreign facilitators could be engaged. It is hoped that many female journalists will be forthcoming.