Media persuaded to raise awareness about TB, lung diseases

Health and communication experts have pleaded with the media to extensively cover Tuberculosis (TB) and other occupational lung diseases to raise awareness among people.

Malawi’s National Tuberculosis (TB) Control Programme Manager Dr James Mpunga

The experts from Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique and Lesotho made the plea in Maseru during their three-day symposium on regional TB and Occupational Health Communication Awareness Raising and Information Exchange.

They said people cannot be reached out with messages about TB and other occupational lung diseases such as scoliosis without involvement of the media.

Lesotho’s Ministry of Health Public Relations Manager Tumisang Mokoai said many miners and ex-miners who work or worked in South Africa were suffering but not much is being reported.

“Many of our people are dying. We need that media indulgency,” he said.

Current World Health Organisation (WHO) report indicates that in 2016, 1. 7 million people died of TB and 10. 4 million fell ill of the disease globally with most of the cases being in Africa.

New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) Planning and Coordinating Agency organised the meeting for the experts to discuss how to raise awareness for the diseases after noting that many people were being infected due to lack of knowledge.

The four countries are implementing the Southern Africa Tuberculosis and Health Systems Support (SATBHSS) project which was launched in 2016.

The NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency and East, Central and Southern Africa Health Community provide regional technical support to the project.

NEPAD’s Principal Programme Officer Chimwemwe Chamdimba said there was need to create network of journalists whom can be trained on TB and mining issues for them to cover and report right messages.

“We can create a network or a cadre of journalists at the regional or national level to champion coverage of these issues,” she said.

In a rapid reaction to Chamdimba’s proposal, journalists drawn from some public and private media organisations in the four countries, agreed and formed the regional network.

The journalists chose Malawi led by Doreen Sonani of Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) to be first chair of the network.

Concurring with Chamdimba, Malawi’s National Tuberculosis (TB) Control Programme Manager Dr James Mpunga said journalists at national level networks should be trained on TB and mining issues for them to cover them well.

“We should make sure that what we have started today should bear fruits for the benefit of the people that we intend to reach in this project; and these are, miners, ex-miners and their families,” Dr Mpunga said.

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