26 March 2021 | Abuja, Nigeria – Nigeria Health Watch featured in a first of its kind photo exhibition tagged “Positive Deviance”. The photo exhibition was solutions journalism-inspired. Solutions Journalism tells the stories of how people are responding to social problems with the same energy that journalists put into telling stories about the problems.
The exhibition was curated by Chibuike Alagboso, a 2019 LEDE fellow of the Solutions Journalism Network USA. A physical exhibition held outdoors at the Ventures Park Abuja in line with COVID-19 public health guidelines. Alagboso said the exhibition was an opportunity to mark this year’s International Women’s Day by amplifying not only problems but solutions that are benefiting and saving the lives of women. The key focus of the solutions and stories told at the exhibition revolved around maternal health and some of the solutions that are preventing women from dying when they are giving birth.
Alagboso said “the traditional role of journalists to be watch dogs by holding authority to account is evolving. There are better ways to do this. Beyond just pointing out problems, why not point out those who are responding to those problems so insights from what they are doing can help other address the problem?”
Nigeria Health Watch’s Managing Director, Vivianne Ihekweazu believes this is timely because “This is a first of its kind photo exhibition in Nigeria, aiming to heighten awareness about maternal health. It is time we had these discussions beyond the health sector and time we start asking questions, why are women still dying, just because they want to give life?”
The exhibition received submissions from photojournalists beyond Nigeria and according to the Africa Initiative Manager of the Solutions Journalism Network, Ruona Meyer, this shows the range that solutions journalism can be put.
On focusing the exhibition on women, she said “The most commonly marginalised population, in society and in news reportage is often women. Sometimes, this is not intentional, but it can definitely be unlearned, because it comes at a great socioeconomic and even mortal cost to women” she said.
She added “Solutions journalism offers a clear pathway to reframe the news, include neglected topics and people, and it is for this reason that Mr Alagboso’s initiative is very much needed. Furthermore, by utilising visual media, this exhibition showcases the range to which solutions journalism can be put; it is no surprise we have seen contributors from outside Nigeria, as far as the US.”
Dr Nnenna Oji, a community medicine resident in Abuja said it is important to amplify efforts that are improving maternal healthcare. Failure to do this, she added, will lead to unsafe practices gaining more popularity than safe, evidence-based practices.
“Gains in maternal healthcare often compete with contradictory norms in communities. There’ll always be a need to amplify these gains to bring about positive behavioral change,” she said.
Participants who missed the physical exhibition can now access a virtual exhibition. The virtual edition of exhibition is currently on till April 25th, 2021.