HSR through the eyes of a first-timer

In a long time I haven’t attended in health conference and was quite delighted that I was going to be a part of the HSR 2016 session.

I didn’t even know what HSR meant but the journalist in me motivated my curiosity first – for possible story ideas to further lend my voice to development health issues which have been one of my major interests in the last four years. The second was to meet people of a different background from mine who had a drive to bring about change using their platforms and to learn about how they were achieving success and dealing with the challenges they encountered.

The first thing I noticed on day one was that everybody knew everybody. I would be standing with a WANEL member and almost instantly I see an expression of excitement on their face which I cannot comprehend and as I am wondering in my head what is so funny about the conversation we are having, to provoke such a smile, squeal or laughter, in no time, I see the reason.

The person has seen a familiar face they share a common history with working to bring about better and sustainable health systems.

This happened quite often and I was curious to understand how in only three editions of the HSR, they have built such a network and a community bond. In journalism in Nigeria, we don’t get this very often because every now and again you are moved from reporting one sector to a different one. So it’s not all the time you stay long enough on a beat to continue to maintain such relationships. It made me happy to see the HSR friendship.

I also had my moment of stardom and absolutely relished the quizzical looks on the faces when I introduced myself as a journalist and loved to respond to their question – “A journalist, what’s a journalist doing here. Come to think of it, I never imagined it was an important part of this conference.”

For those who carried the conversation further, it was quite heartwarming when I saw that they realized we are all working and advocating in the same direction but using different platforms.

Being the moderator of the WANEL panel was a task that made me nervous to the high heavens and until I was done with accomplishing the assignment, I tried to do a good job of hiding it. I went through Youtube videos on how to be a moderator, how to moderate a panel, you name it, I studied them. After it was all over I learnt a lesson, ‘next time you have such a task, simply relax and enjoy it.’

A major learning point for me was the art of conducting research, presenting findings and using data, graph and other tools to present my message.

It was a loaded week and with some feeling of regret about not being able to attend as many sessions as I would have loved to, I still made the most of what I participated in. Thankfully, I had planned sessions I wanted to attend and build a reliable reservoir of contacts I can use for my reports as I have already started doing. Read here: