CAPTION: Permanent Secretary for Information Sharon Smith Johns, left, with Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma at the NCD workshop in Shangri-La’s Fijian Resort this morning. Photo: MUNAUWAR KHAN.
The role of media outlets in raising awareness on Non Communicable Diseases is vital to reducing statistics in the country.
This was one of the key highlights raised by the Ministry of Information permanent secretary, Sharon Smith Johns at a workshop designed to boost NCDs awareness through closer cooperation with media outlets and health stakeholders.
Identifying the need for strengthening the communication of NCDs and its effects in the country, Ms Smith Johns said that media outlets have an opportunity to make a difference in this process.
“In spite of the various advances in modern medicine and health measures introduced to combat NCDs, it is the important role that the media play that is often forgotten,” she told participants this morning.
“From the Ministry of Health and Government’s perspective, we need to deliver information that has an impact on people, that has an impact on their thinking process, and, above all, makes them question and change unhealthy habits. Whether that is to stop smoking or drinking, start eating healthier, or get serious about exercise.”
She also pointed out that media outlets and more importantly, journalists should assess the ways NCDs are reported.
“Stories that are about people and not numbers are inherently more intriguing. And, of course, you as reporters want to write stories that appeal to your readership.”
“Now, of course there is information that needs to be communicated to the public in these stories, and we cannot altogether get away from facts and figures.”
“But I would say that one number or fact can make a good story. Don’t overload the story with too many figures; it will either confuse the reader or in most cases, bore the reader.”
The two day workshop is taking place at Sigatoka and is organized by the Ministry of Health. Participants include senior medical officials and members from the media who include senior reporters and directors.