Editors’ Panel Highlights Importance of Immunization in Media
NEW DELHI, India, 26 April, 2012: A high level group of editors from Delhi and Madhya Pradesh came together for a brainstorming session, to mark the first-ever World Immunization Week (21-28 April 2012).
Setting the context, Dr. Ajay Khera, Deputy Commissioner, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi informed that the Government of India has declared Year 2012 -13 as the year of Intensification of Routine Immunization.
Focusing on the fact that out of 26 million children born every year in India, one-third do not complete their immunization, over 25 national editors from leading English and Hindi media discussed the crucial role that media can play for creating awareness on this issue. The editors suggested several ways to improve routine immunisation and fill the information gap.
Sir Mark Tully, veteran journalist said, “Undue emphasis is laid on curative medicine rather than preventive measures and that is why I entirely support the immunization campaign. For spreading awareness traditional media like radio can still be very effective to reach remote areas of the country”.
Emphasizing on the need for health communication to be simple, icon of Indian journalism, Mr. Vinod Mehta said, “Health issues are often communicated in a complex manner. Stories have to be simple in order to communicate effectively. Strategies like celebrity endorsements as seen in the case of the polio program can make a huge difference.”
IGNOU’s School of Journalism and New Media Studies (SOJNMS) which had closely collaborated with UNICEF during the year long initiative, for building capacities of select national and MP based media, was represented by Prof. Yadav. Dr Yadav opined that myths and lack of awareness about immunization was a major reason for low demand for vaccination. He emphasized on the need to engage and build capacities of grassroot level journalists.
Mr. Palash Surjan, Editor, Deshbandhu, Madhya Pradesh pointed out that MP has one of the lowest immunization rates - 42% against the national average of 60%. The need to build capacities of grassroots journalists and sensitize the large number of women Panchayati Raj Institution members was emphasized by him.”
Citing the example of Right to Education, Mr. Saunand from IGNOU and Mr. S.K Singh, Executive Editor, Zee News proposed the concept of “Right to Immunization” for ensuring an equitable approach for IRI.
Ms. Nidhi Kulpati, NDTV India highlighted the need for media to focus on the frontline workers who are crucial for delivering health services in remote areas Mr. R.K Singh, Editor Navbharat Times and Mr. P. Somvanshi, Resident Editor, Hindustan pointed out that in areas where both media penetration and immunization coverage is low, innovative means of communication such as mobile phones should be used.
Stressing on the need for two-way flow of information between the media and health authorities, Kounteya Sinha, Health Editor, Times of India said, “We are interested in doing good stories. Immunization is a major problem area for the country and we are only too eager to help provided there is complete transparency.”
“Compared with the national media the state and district media has extensive reach and it is important to engage specifically with these grassroot level journalists. Branding with local connect should be created around the concept of Routine Immunization”, said Mr. Q. W Naqwi, Aaj Tak.
Mr. N.K. Singh, senior media editor from Madhya Pradesh also emphasized the need for brandin andmaking RI a social programme where diverse groups of civil society members are engaged..
For more information and interviews contact
Prof. Subhash Dhulia, Director, SOJNM, IGNOU
S. Saunand, IGNOU. Tel: + 81 30 35 8629
Sonia Sarkar, Communication Officer, Tel : +91-9810170289