Development Communications (Devcoms) Network is a media-development and capacity-building non-governmental organization that engages media in the development process with a strong emphasis on science and public health journalism. The organization is the product of a series of development projects on media (both print and broadcast), health promotion, advocacy and capacity-building in the Nigerian mass media and the civil society sector from 1995 to date.
Devcoms envisions a society that is literate about science and public health issues. Its mission is to ensure public understanding of science and public health-related research through the promotion of excellence in science and public health journalism. This mission is implemented through three approaches: capacity building for journalists; fostering linkage between the media, scientists, civil society and development sector; and public health education promotion.
Devcoms proposes a concept of the media as a watchdog in tracking resources spent and political commitment for Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5, which focus on reducing child and maternal mortality. The organization has a program of media engagement to embed journalists at the forefront of the MDG effort to learn, investigate and monitor government commitments to effective implementation of health policies for MDG attainment. To date, Devcoms has trained journalists from 27 media organizations and influenced the increase in frequency of maternal and child health reports in Nigeria by 15%.
Through its engagement with the media, Devcoms forges a critical link between citizens and the practical, daily work of improving public health services. Information is power for citizens, civil society and governments and the media are critical to the promotion of a transparent and effective development process. With the right focus, the media can be key players in ensuring that development resources are effectively channelled and bring about the desired results.
Devcoms' initial efforts of media engagement and immersion have helped achieve the following:
Introduction of Free Maternal and Child Health (Free MCH) Services in about a dozen states across Nigeria.
Growing critical mass of journalism corps who are advocates of safe motherhood and other maternal and child health issues in Nigeria - 32 Immersion Fellows have been trained from media organizations, with over 180 journalists sensitized.
Increasing the frequency of maternal, and child health reports in Nigeria media especially editorial commentaries
Allocating more airtime for maternal and child health on radio and television with resultant increased hospital attendance for antenatal care and delivery
In addition to its work within Nigeria, Devcoms has a continent-wide reach through two online discussion forums and a blog-spot where researchers, journalists and policy makers can discuss topical issues , share best practices and gather information gathered from credible and secure sources. These forums are avenues for reporting field activities and other news gathered by journalists that can be circulated electronically across the African continent.