Media a key ally in promoting health for all- WHO Rep

WORLD Health Organisation Zimbabwe country Representative, Professor Jean Marie Dangou has emphasized the need for media to collaborate with stakeholders in the healthcare sector in order to create an informed society.

By Michael Gwarisa

He said this while welcoming health Journalists and members of the Health Communicators Forum (HCF) in Zimbabwe to a Media Science Café on COVID-19 that was held at the WHO Offices in Harare.

It is also pleasing to know that there is a group of dedicated health journalists in Zimbabwe. This makes it easier for coordination and for writers to fully understand health concepts before unpacking these for the general public. In today’s fast-paced world, the media plays a vital role in shaping public perception and understanding of health issues, said Pro Dangou.

He added that with the rise of social media and the internet, information on health was now more than ever readily available than ever before.

“Therefore, it is imperative that we have trained and knowledgeable health journalists who can accurately report on health issues and disseminate vital information to the public. The media has the power to educate, inform, and empower individuals to make informed decisions about their health. Therefore, we must continue to support and encourage the work of health journalists in Zimbabwe and around the world. Together, we can create a healthier and more informed society.”

WHO is celebrating 75 years of existence and the theme, health for all, is a call for health service to be accessible and be within reach of everyone in any given country without hindrances such as that of cost.

“It is important to note that almost all countries particularly in our region are faced with challenges that have hindered progress towards achieving health for all. These challenges include lack of political commitment, insufficient funding, shortage in the health workforce, shortages of essential medicines and difficult geographical access that have led to underutilization of services in some part of the country.

To deal with the challenges, advocacy at all levels is crucial, and collaborations across all sectors, including the media to ensure that all these challenges facing the health sector can be a thing of the past.”
He said the role of the media in public health cannot be underestimated as they play a critical role in promoting health for all in Zimbabwe and the COVID-19 pandemic, showed us how critical information sharing is.

“I will highlight a few critical areas of the power of media: The media has the ability to raise awareness about health issues in Zimbabwe. By disseminating information through various channels, such as print, radio, television, and social media, which is very well represented here, the media can help educate the public about health risks and preventive measures.

“The media can also shape public opinion on health-related policies and initiatives. By providing accurate and timely information, the media can help build trust and support for government-led health programs and interventions. In addition, by highlighting the disparities that exist in access to healthcare, and promoting policies and programs that aim to address these disparities, the media can help to ensure that everyone has access to the care they need to live healthy and productive lives.

“The media can serve as a watchdog, highlighting areas where health systems need improvement. Through investigative reporting, the media can bring attention to issues such as inadequate healthcare infrastructure, corruption, and lack of resources, which can ultimately lead to positive change. Finally, the media can also play a role in promoting positive health behaviors and lifestyles by providing information on the benefits of healthy eating, exercise, and other lifestyle choices. By featuring stories of individuals who have overcome health challenges or adopted healthy lifestyles, the media can inspire others to make positive changes in their own lives. The media can help to promote healthy behaviors.”



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