22 June 2017

Liberia: One Sided Media Reporting - Issues Affecting Public Health While Breeding Politicians

opinion

The Liberian media institutions (national and local) are highly interested in reporting political happenings (total coverage) as compared to public health related issues or/ prevention messages.

As a result, health which determines individuals' social, political, spiritual, and metal outcome had been overridden by politics, which overweigh its outcomes negatively.

Health is the state of complete mental, spiritual, social wellbeing and not merely in the absence of disease (WHO, 1948).

With the above definition of health by WHO, it means that no one is 100% healthy as maybe looked at by many who feel that they are sick only when they are unable to eat, walk, sleep etc. Worst, living on the part of continent where majority lack routine medical check-ups.

As for the media (local and international) they play vital role as the link between health workers and the larger public by building trust, public awareness and preparedness in case of any disease invasion or exposure. This role of the media had been doubtfully executed even though its sole aim is to make business.

Both health and media authorities may argue that health information essential for public consumption is not forthcoming while health authorities may think that media authorities find less interest in covering health related activities attentively.

On either side, it is glaring that with the help of media (social, local, national) in Liberia, the minds of the general population especially, the youth had been occupied with politics over health matters (issues that can threaten their existence).

It can be recalled that during the deadly Ebola outbreak dated back in 2014 through 2016, media approaches in controlling the disease was not intensive- fewer music or promo were placed or captured on media frequently as compared to political season that is many months away but had been fully covered by media institutions.

For the latter, citizens, especially younger ones who are struggling to understand what personal hygiene is, are fully aware of political parties in terms of who is topping and who is the least favorite for the Presidency comes October, 2017.

All these happened not in the absence of media's efforts. In addition, political activities like the mushrooms endorsements of various political parties across the country are almost if not fully covered by media (newspapers, talk shows etc.).

On the contrary, when over 50 midwives abandoned their facilities in Grand Cape Mount, the media reported it in a less serious manner without due diligence on life that will be lost due to the lack of those health practitioners.

Regrettably, locally and nationally assigned media reporters are more of politicians rather than public health educators. Most listened to talk shows are highly centered on politics rather than health which is an integral part of human day to day life as well as life expectancy determinant.

Yet again, how will the health systems in Liberia are prioritized by policy makers when the health sector has been presumed to be corruption free?

This is because media heavily focus on other sector's financial mismanagement/malpractices rather than looking at how corruptions can be prevented. For example, the corruption scandal that gave birth to the word "recuse" that led to the removal of Hon. Alex Tyler plus the most recent one involving Dr Kollie's.

To say the least, lack of an emergency service at the most talked about capitol building that was unearthed by the collapsed of Hon. Varney G. Sherman during the endorsement of Amb. Joseph Boakai (FrontPage Africa, 2017).

Significant health related story like the last one was over shadowed by the wrongfulness of endorsing VP Boakai at the capitol building. It was given credence by many media institutions more frequently disregarding the public health implications that undermine the health system and preparedness level both locally and internationally in case of disease outbreak.

Disregarding media's goal of maximizing profit, breeding youths in politics will balloon the already insecure and decrease levels of confidence policy makers, government officials and prominent Liberians have in the health delivery system that significantly underpins their decisions to seek medical treatment of any kind overseas.

Worth noting, if younger generation will be able to know the importance of health to their well-being, media reportage (talk shows, newspapers) need to be more health related focused along with politics because "men by nature are politicians."

Let reporter in local communities or at national headquarters have little knowledge on mode of disease prevention and occurrences.

Finally, if media do not revised the level of relaxation on health related matters reportage (TBS, Bomber and, Costa shows etc.), our younger generation will produce more politicians rather than Medical doctors, Nurses, Physician Assistance, midwives etc. who will save the very politicians from dying prematurely of preventable diseases.

The Author
Eddie Miaway Farngalo Is the Head of Research At the Center for Liberia's Future Which Is Currently Conducting a National Study On Community Perceptions About Ebola and the Reintegration of Ebola Survivors, Orphans and Caregivers. 0886484351/0777590035/Address:

Liberia

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