By Tadiwa Nyatanga
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services minister Monica Mutsvangwa has implored the media to keep the HIV story alive.
She said this during a media awards ceremony hosted by the National Aids Council (NAC) in Harare on Friday.
The awards are meant to appreciate journalists and media houses that correctly and consistently covered the story of HIV and Aids throughout 2020.
Winners were selected on the basis of frequency, accuracy, correctness of facts, among other things, in terms of their reporting.
These awards also follow NAC’s realisation that the media has been playing a critical role in disseminating new information on HIV and Aids since 1985 when the first case of HIV was reported in Zimbabwe.
Therefore, journalists should be motivated to continue to report professionally, objectively and ethically on these issues.
The adjudication process which was based on monitoring of articles, was carried out by experts in the media industry from across the country.
The process led to the identification of journalists who consistently, objectively, professionally and ethically report on HIV and Aids, Cancer, Covid-19 and other related conditions as part and parcel of the media’s contribution towards the multi-sectoral response to the pandemic.
Mutsvangwa who was the guest of honour at the event, commended NAC for the great work it is doing in the reduction of new infections and Aids-related deaths.
“Gone are the days when testing HIV positive would certainly lead to imminent death,” Mutsvangwa said.
“Nowadays people are actually more worried about non-communicable diseases than HIV.”
The minister applauded the media for disseminating life-saving information.
“I would like to thank the media for its role in widespread dissemination of information on Covid-19, which has empowered our people to practice safe behaviours, just like you did when Aids was killing our people in thousands per week,” she said.
She expressed optimism that Zimbabwe will prevail over Covid-19 if stakeholders continue working together to inform, educate and warn people about the pandemic.
Mutsvangwa also hailed media practitioners for ensuring that the Aids story is not overshadowed by other issues and remains appealing to the public.
“Reportage on HIV and Aids has significantly improved over the years especially on building and instilling hope instead of the yester-year scary and gory stories, which put forward HIV as a death sentence,” she said.
Mutsvangwa appealed to the media to continue reporting on HIV using language that is sensitive to both the infected and the affected.
“We all know that beyond those facts and figures are human faces and emotions that we need to provide hope to,” she said.
NAC CEO Bernard Madzima said the media plays a crucial role in Aids and HIV interventions programmes.
“The media awards are not an isolated intervention but part of a broader strategy that includes taking journalists and editors around the country on media tours to expose them to various HIV and Aids interventions that they would otherwise have missed in their daily assignments,” Madzima said.
Madzima acknowledged that the number of journalists who write on HIV and Aids has increased over the years and that the quality has also improved.
“This is what motivated us to come up with these awards, particularly the need to reward and at the same time promote consistency, responsibility and quality in writing news articles,” he said.
The winners were as follows:
In the print media category, the first prize went to Robin Muchetu (The Sunday News). The second prize winner was Andile Tshuma (The Chronicle) followed by Debra Matabvu (The Sunday Mail). Abigirl Tembo (ZBC News), clinched the first prize in the electronic media category followed by Zororai Nkomo (ZiFM) and Thulani Siziba (Radio Zimbabwe).
The first prize in the online media category was won by Sly Media, with Health Times on the second position and Crucial Kuwanga (Techno Mag).