20 journalists, media organizations, and digital media volunteers drawn from five states of the Southeast Region of Nigeria gathered in Enugu State, for a two-day training hosted by the Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA) on the 6th and 7th of May 2022. At the training sessions supported by the Global Health Advocacy Incubator (GHAI), media practitioners gained an in-depth understanding of key issues relating to transfat consumption, elimination, policy responses, and impact on the health of Nigerians. The training was conceived by CAPPA in 2020 as part of its broad advocacy strategy to eliminate trans fatty acids (TFA) in Nigeria by equipping journalists with requisite skills and information to advocate for TFA regulations and increase public awareness of the dangers of transfat.[spacer height=”25px”]
At the start of the training, CAPPA’s Executive Director, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi underscored the importance and role of the media in influencing public consciousness, including policies and regulations to eliminate TFA in the country. He thanked the Global Health Advocacy Incubator represented at the event by its Nigeria In-Country Coordinator, Joy Amafah, for always supporting health advocates working to eradicate trans fatty acids. He also appreciated the Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED) for offering technical support to CAPPA’s #TransFatFree campaign. Oluwafemi enjoined participants to thoroughly absorb all information provided by seasoned resource persons and experts at the event.[spacer height=”25px”]
The training featured remarks from the Special Guest of Honour, Professor Ikechukwu Obi, Honourable Commissioner for Health, Enugu State who represented the Governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi at the programme. Other opening remarks included goodwill messages from distinguished personalities – Dr. Jerome Mafeni, Executive Director, NHED, and Joy Amafah, Nigeria In-Country Coordinator, GHAI.[spacer height=”25px”]
Dr. Jerome particularly commended the tenacity of media practitioners at the event in publishing qualitative and instructive reports despite the sapping task. He thanked CAPPA for providing capacity building for transfat campaigners.
Ms. Joy Amafah remarked that the training was timely and reiterated the importance of utilizing the media as a formidable tool in the campaign against transfat
Professor Ikechukwu Obi expressed faith in the objectives of the training to equip journalists with the requisite knowledge and capacity to shine the spotlight on transfat. “We believe this training will contribute significantly to the body of knowledge that will be in the public domain to educate Nigerians and pressure the relevant agencies of government at the federal level to gazette the regulations on transfat”. The Commissioner said.
He noted that the training matched the vision of the Enugu State government to provide innovative standards for health research and information system management including citizen participation in health governance. He assured participants at the event of the commitment of the Enugu State government to work with all stakeholders, including the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), civil society, and media to expose the dangers of transfat.
A keynote address delivered by Ms. Joy Amafah on Trans-Fat Regulation as a Public Health Emergency: Beyond the Rhetoric emphasized the need for Nigeria to gazette its Fats and Oil Regulation. According to her, a legislation will greatly eliminate the consumption of transfat in Nigeria and fulfill the objectives of the World Health Organization’s REPLACE package. The REPLACE initiative outlines strategic actions that will help countries ensure a sustained elimination of transfat from national consumption and food supply chains. She noted the utmost interest of GHAI to always provide strategic support to civil society organizations and health advocates such as CAPPA, working to influence national health policies aimed at securing lives and improving public health.[spacer height=”25px”]
DAY 1 TRAINING SESSIONS:
A presentation on Understanding Trans-Fat and its Health Impacts delivered by Dr. Jerome exposed participants to the sources and dangers of transfat. Consumption of trans fat increases the risk of heart attacks, type 2 diabetes, obesity, body inflammation, cancer, and gut bacteria. In Nigeria, the negative impacts are exacerbated by poor health care systems and the non-implementation of effective health regulations and policies that work to checkmate transfat consumption and content in food production.[spacer height=”25px”]
Akinbode Oluwafemi, Executive Director, CAPPA delivered a second presentation on Creating Policy Agenda for #TransFatFreeNigeria: The Role of the Media. In his address, he asked journalists to always reflect on the five Ws and H when producing a report. The five Ws and H refer to six basic and important questions to ask when gathering information or solving a problem. They include Who, What, When, Where, and Why. When considered, these questions help to provide critical data and information required to enrich a report for public consumption. He charged media practitioners to utilize the power of their platforms and position in the public sphere to galvanize all stakeholders to achieve the campaign of a #transfatfree Nigeria.
Dr. Eva Edwards, Director, Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, National Agency for Food Administration and Drug Control, delivered the third presentation on Highlights of Drafts Fats and Oils Regulation. The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) was established to regulate and control the manufacture, importation, exportation, distribution, advertisement, sale, and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, packaged water, chemical, and detergents. Accordingly, the agency is bound by its mandate and statutory responsibility to safeguard public health, including ensure a transfat-free food supply chain in the country. At the moment, NAFDAC in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health has updated the Fats and Oils Regulation, 2019, to reflect important provisions such as the WHO REPLACE ACTION PACKAGE. When gazetted, the regulation will limit transfat to 2g per 100g of total fat in all fats, oils, and foods.[spacer height=”25px”]
The Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), represented by John Atanda, National Coordinator of Food Safety and Quality Programme also spoke on the efforts of the FMOH to speed up gazetting of TFA regulations. He attributed the delay to due diligence and interest of the ministry to reflect the inputs of all stakeholders in the regulation. As soon as the TFA regulation becomes gazetted, the FMOH will work with multi-stakeholders to strengthen national food controls and bring to bear food producers and related entities to comply with the TFA regulations.[spacer height=”25px”]
The final presentation by Esubalew Dadi, Legal Advisor, GHAI educated participants on the Legal underpinnings to Regulate TFA: Global experience and Best Practices towards ensuring a transfat free food chain. Citing examples and experiences, he shared references for enhancing Nigeria’s TFA policy framework, influencing general population change, and attitudes to transfat.[spacer height=”25px”]
Activities for the second day of the training began with a presentation on Reporting Trans-Fat from diverse Angles: Business, Health, Lifestyle, Gender facilitated by Phillip Jakpor, Director of Programmes, CAPPA. Participants were exposed to transfat story ideas and news themes, including ways to document and report stories of transfat issues, by focusing on salient perspectives that generate a call to action for readers and relevant stakeholders to take a stance against transfat.
Aderonke Bello Maria, Media and Communications Officer, CAPPA gave the second presentation of the day which dwelt onEffective Ways of Conducting Interviews for Health Experts. The journalists learned how to interview health practitioners using the 5Ws to ask insightful questions and draw out meaningful information to enhance their transfat reporting.
The third presentation delivered by Adie Vanessa, a Media Consultant, showed participants how to develop Trans-Fat Story Ideas. The discussion progressed into a practical sessions that required teams of journalists to propose and develop transfat story ideas.
Abayomi Sarumi, Digital Media Manager, CAPPA, walked participants through the next presentation which focused on ways to amplify the campaign for a #TransFatFreeNigeria via Digital Media. He educated journalists on ways to utilize digital channels and social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, etc., to tell more transfat stories, build a community of followers, interactive news audiences, and overall, improve their writing styles to appeal to readers of varying demographics.
Laura Rodriguez, Digital Communications Expert, Global Digital Wave delivered a final presentation on Digital Tools for Advocacy. Digital Advocacy is the use of online and mobile tools to engage a target audience; inspire them to act and wield power to achieve a specific policy goal. The session offered information on strategies to inspire community mobilization and advocacy in the campaign against transfat on social media, including pathways to engage policy and decision-makers on digital communication channels such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. Participants were encouraged to actively monitor the hashtag #TransfatfreeNigeria on digital channels to catch up with the latest transfat updates, document emerging trends, and identify prospective individuals and stakeholders for interviews.[spacer height=”25px”]
The information-packed training session concluded with group exercises that offered participants the opportunity to analyze, discuss and explore ideas and knowledge gained from all the educative presentations. At the close of the event, participants thanked CAPPA for organizing the highly enlightening and interactive event. They promised to use the information gathered from the event to develop penetrating news and investigative reports that will contribute to the campaign to eliminate transfat in Nigeria.[spacer height=”25px”]