A week-long trip of the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) to Ethiopia, South Sudan and Nigeria has resulted in valuable programming and distribution agreements. At a town hall meeting co-sponsored by Radio France Internationale in Abuja, Nigeria yesterday, the Broadcasting Board of Governors launched the VOA Africa Health Network. The Network will help address the health and developmental needs of audiences across Africa. BBG board members Dana Perino, Michael Meehan, and Susan McCue announced the creation of the new initiative, which will provide timely and sensitive information about all aspects of preventive healthcare.
“We believe the best way to reach the African people is through a close partnership. We want to hear their voices on our shows; we want to answer their questions in town hall meetings; and we want to help prepare their journalists for professional and informative reporting on health issues in Africa,” said Dana Perino. “The VOA Africa Health Network represents a realization of these goals.”
The announcement of the new initiative marked the final leg of the Governors’ week-long trip to Ethiopia, Nigeria, and South Sudan in support of VOA broadcasting, and media freedom, in Africa.
On June 24, the BBG reached an historic agreement with the government of the fledgling Republic of South Sudan to expand VOA broadcasts through enhanced FM transmissions and affiliate access as well as to provide journalism training and technical assistance in support of an independent press there.
“We are going to have wonderful cooperation with the Voice of America in terms of enhancing the capacity of our young journalists and improving the media environment in South Sudan — in the process letting the majority of our people have access to information,” said Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin, Minister of Information of the Republic of South Sudan, at a VOA-sponsored town hall on June 25th in Juba.
“The BBG is committed to helping the world’s newest democracy stand up on its feet and make sure that through a free media all its citizens’ voices are heard,” said Michael Meehan.
The Board also held meetings with representatives of the government of Ethiopia in hopes of advancing the role of media freedom in the country. The Board members stressed the importance of news and information to audiences in Ethiopia and beyond and discussed the possibility of journalism training and programming on health and development.
“Our hope is that we will be able to expand VOA broadcasting in the critical areas of development and health, especially maternal health,” said Susan McCue. “Healthy, well-informed moms make for a healthy society.”
For further details about the Board members’ efforts to broaden the reach and impact of VOA in Africa, visit the board’s travel blog at voaontheroadafrica.tumblr.com.