Media & childbirth in Nepal

Much of the academic literature about the mass  media,  ‘old’ (press, radio, television) or ‘new’ (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and the like) has focused on high-income countries.  There is a growing literature on the effect on aspects of health and health care of the media in low-income countries.  In an overview article published yesterday we looked at the media, health and health promotion in Nepal as a two-way process [1].  Health promoters need to media to get their messages across to their audiences.  Thus the media offer a vital outlet for health promotion advice and information . Both the general public and health care workers learn about health and medical issues through the mass media.For example,  the mass media are used to increase the uptake of antenatal care among women in rural Nepal [2], or women can get information through YouTube clips [3].

img_6447Much of the academic literature about the mass  media,  ‘old’ (press, radio, television) or ‘new’ (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and the like) has focused on high-income countries.  There is a growing literature on the effect on aspects of health and health care of the media in low-income countries.  In an overview article published yesterday we looked at the media, health and health promotion in Nepal as a two-way process [1].  Health promoters need to media to get their messages across to their audiences.  Thus the media offer a vital outlet for health promotion advice and information . Both the general public and health care workers learn about health and medical issues through the mass media.For example,  the mass media are used to increase the uptake of antenatal care among women in rural Nepal [2], or women can get information through YouTube clips [3].

Of course, we  are all aware that the media can misrepresent health issues, for example, mess up health statistics and exaggerate health scares. Such misrepresentation is partly through selective reporting and partly through sensationalising issues and focusing on negative effects. Our paper reminds health promoters (and health workers or policy makers) that good news is often ‘not’ interesting enough, they need something that will answer the most basic of questions that the media asks: Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? Who is this story happening to? What has happened (the event)? Where has it taken place? Why is it happening now and how has this all come about. If health promoters can answer those questions going into any conversation with the media, then there is a chance that a reasonably factually correct stories will appear in the media.

jmmihs-2016We also remind the readers that many politicians are avid media followers, especially if they are named or their party is linked to a public health story. The same is true for multi-national corporations, large public bodies and charities working in the health field. Many such organisations keep a close eye on the media, not just the news, to keep track of how they are portrayed and perceived by the general public, potential customers and even suppliers. Those working in public health should be aware of this and use this knowledge when designing public health messages and campaigns.

 

References:

  1. van Teijlingen, E., Simkhada, P., Luce, A., Hundley, V. (2016) Media, Health and Health Promotion in Nepal, Journal of Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences 2(1): 70-75. http://www.nepjol.info/index.php/JMMIHS/article/view/15799/12744
  2. Acharya, D., Khanal, V., Singh, J.K., Adhikari, M., Gautam, S. (2015) Impact of mass media on the utilization of antenatal care services among women of rural community in Nepal. BMC Research Notes 8:4–9 http://bmcresnotes.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13104-015-1312-8
  3. Global Health Media Project (no date) Giving good care during labour (Nepali) – Childbirth Series https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jjb6mbzaU7Y

 

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