Media urged to play its due role for health sector
KARACHI: “Not only is the media a primary source of molding public opinion but it also is a key role player in decision making and policy designing. It is the collective responsibility of journalists to play their due role in highlighting health issues besides spreading awareness against myths about vaccination.”
These views were expressed by the speakers of a daylong workshop for health journalists, jointly organised by the Karachi Press Club (KCP) and MISHAL, a non-governmental organisation associated with World Economic Forum (WEF), here on Wednesday. The workshop included interactive sessions, speeches, presentations and activities.
Expressing his views, Amir Zia, editor of a local daily said that children’s issues should be handled with extreme care and sensitivity ensuring safety and privacy. He emphasised journalists’ role in creating awareness and fighting myths that become a source of usurping basic child rights. He urged media men to avoid exaggeration besides asking them to highlight medical issues and spread awareness in appropriate manner.
KPC President Tahir Hasan Khan said being the largest journalists club of the country, the KPC had always taken initiatives for the training of media personnel and safeguarding the rights of citizens.
“Pakistani media has to play its role for highlighting issues like polio,” he said, adding that it has been researched that thousands of children missed their polio drops in past couple of years with the worst-affected areas being FATA and Balochistan.
A high internally displaced persons’ influx into Sindh resulted in an increase in the number of polio cases especially in Karachi, he said. In 2011, Pakistan reported 198 polio cases in total out of which 23 were from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 59 from FATA, 73 from Balochistan, one from Gilgit-Baltistan, nine from Punjab and 33 from Sindh.
MISHAL Pakistan CEO Amir Jahangir shed light on the health indicators with the help of a multimedia presentation. He informed the workshop how international organisations set indicators for a country. He also shared the importance of health indicators and how journalists could benefit from the WHO’s World Health Indicators, United Nations MDGs and World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index.
On the occasion, representatives of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and other organisations responded to the queries of journalists about polio eradication campaigns in the countries, its design and impacts.
The daylong programme culminated at an interesting activity, followed by a certificate distribution ceremony, designed to educate journalists on the challenges for such campaigns.
Centre for International Media Ethics (CIME) Ambassador to Pakistan Puruesh Chaudhary, Dr Shaukat Ali and Hameed Kashan from UNICEF Pakistan and Deputy Director Projects EPI Dr Rizwana Memon also expressed their views.
They highlighted that 22 polio cases have so far been reported in 2012 in various parts of the country with the highest number of victims hailed from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) where a total of 15 cases were brought to the notice of authorities. In Sindh, the number of reported polio cases is three, while in Balochistan and Punjab provinces two polio cases each have been reported. One of the major reasons for the polio cases in Sindh remains the influx of internally displaced persons, while in KP and FATA the continued conflict situation.
The workshop also agreed to form a forum called ‘Journalists Against Polio’ as initiated by the Peshawar Press Club.