Nation Publications Limited has been queried for publishing adverts whose contents some readers believe are at times false and grossly misleading to the public.
In a letter to the publishers, ‘concerned Malawians’ including University of Malawi academics Boniface Dulani, Blessings Chinsinga and Jimmy Kainja queried an advert appeared on page 7 of the Weekend Nation of Saturday, 27 December 2014 by ‘Soul Winners Church’.
In the advert, Soul Winners Church’ is promising healing miracles from various ailments, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, barrenness and blindness.
“While it is by no means our intention to impugn the value of faith healing, we are motivated purely by the desire to guard against the publication of messages that have the potential to put the public in danger,” reads the letter by concerned Malawians.
Other signatories of the letter include journalist Idriss Nassah, George Mkandawire, spokesman of Ministry of Health Henry Chimbali, Pearson Nkhoma and Australia based Andrew Likaka.
“ By publishing these types of adverts, whose veracity is nothing more than the word of those who place them, you might inadvertently be giving credibility to conmen that seek to trick people at their most vulnerable time,” reads the letter in part.
“At a time when the country is making progress in containing HIV/AIDS, the advert cited above quotes ‘testimony’ from an HIV/AIDS patient claiming taking anti-retroviral drugs made her life ‘miserable.’ To our knowledge, anti-retroviral drugs remain the only effective remedy for HIV/AIDS.
“We are thus hugely disappointed that a newspaper of high repute like yours can publish unsubstantiated claims that the lives of HIV/AIDS patients will get better after they stop taking their drugs as the advert seems to suggest.”
The concerned Malawians also noted that it is “archaic and outdated” thinking that women who are unable to have children are portrayed in the advert as living a life of “shame.”
Reads the letter: “While we acknowledge that newspapers need to generate advertising revenue to survive and to deliver news at affordable cost, we strongly believe that this has to be balanced with the equally important duty of educating and informing the public in a manner that does not mislead. This includes the responsibility to ensure that material that appears in the newspaper, including advertisements, are neither false nor misleading.”
The concerned Malawians pointed out that that they are aware that other media houses publish and broadcast similar messages, but queried Nation publications for their “ unique position as the country’s leading print media house.”
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