The Media and Public Health Sample

Abstract

Media coverage on health matters determine quite a lot how healthy a society is. The media may not cover all diseases in the same way as far as coverage and attention get concerned though the bias ought not to shift and focus wholly on some diseases and ignore others. In the report below, am going to discuss how the national print media has achieved its role on public health of covering diseases adequately. Different diseases get offered different amounts of attention.

Introduction

Public health is the science and art of disease prevention, health promotion and prolonged life through the informed choices and organized efforts of the society, organizations, private and public, individuals and communities. It is involved with threats to health on the basis of analyzing population health. The population can be as small as a few people or as large as all the people on several continents, for example, in the case of a pandemic. Health dimensions can encompass a state of complete mental, social and physical well-being and not just the absence of infirmity or disease.", as defined by WHO.  Public health includes the interdisciplinary approaches of epidemiology, health services and statistics. Environmental health, behavioral health, community health, and occupational health are other pertinent fields.

Recently there has been a high alert on people to check their eating habits. This has received a lot of media coverage including newspapers, radios, television and magazines. Of these, the magazines have been the most preferred especially those that write on health issues as a specialty. I will take an example of a magazine dubbed ‘Healthy Eating’. It talks about what the healthy eating habits are and implications of failure to abide by them (Epstein, 1990).

Developing healthy eating habits is easier and simpler than one may think. One will feel and look better if you make a habit of eating in a healthy manner. One will think more clearly and have got more energy. The immune system will be higher, and, therefore, one will not get sick so often. Such habits are your ticket to a healthier mind and body. The magazine explains a few steps to healthy eating habits. These include substituting the unhealthy food with healthier ones.

Pneumonia, measles and diarrhea lead as the major causes of death in small children worldwide, but have got a disproportionately low share of media coverage and attention and international funding. In comparison, AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis, diseases that also substantially affect children – get considerably more funding also get relatively high media attention and coverage. This essay investigates the potential relationship between funding levels and media agenda setting in the context of the true burden of a disease.

Unhealthy eating habits according to the magazine can cause cancer, obesity and diabetes among others. These have been rated as the major causes of deaths especially in developed countries. Estimation by scientists shows that unhealthy diets cause 10 to 30% of the total deaths caused by cancer (Carpenter & Finley, 2005)

The media today usually focuses on those health issues that scientists have raised alarm about. Other diseases, which are coming up, do not receive the attention they deserve before they spread beyond limits. Diseases like AIDs and cancer have received all the attention while those deemed to be minor like malaria do not receive the attention they deserve (Kendrowski & Sarow, 2007). This has seen its spread and increased deaths from it. Also, another thing that might have influenced media coverage of some diseases is that some are high profile while others are low profiled. Consider diabetes, for instance, it usually affects the rich due to their high consumption of sugary expensive foods and a lot of red meat. Such diseases catch up even with the media people hence the high representation it receives. Malaria, on the other hand, usually affects the poor who have no money to afford mosquito nets and such. They also reside in particularly remote places where the media people find difficult to access due to the infrastructural conditions also for security reasons.

Though eating habits are usually over represented, people do not get the facts as they are. Some media people mislead people about which foods are healthy to take and which are no. An example is how much water one should supposedly drink per day. Some print media claim that one should take at least twelve glasses of water, not counting the amount taken in tea or any other drink which is not pure water. Other claim that one should take eight glasses with the amount taken with other drinks included. While they over represent and misrepresent some healthy habits, the media play a crucial role in ensuring the health of their audience (Green, & Tones, 2004).

There were notably more articles apostrophize the Global Fund diseases as compared to the lower-funded pediatric disorders between 1981 and 2008 (1344000 versus 291,000 articles). There were also remarkable differences in the framing of narratives by the media: 1) There was a high percentage of articles with the major purpose of increasing awareness for AIDS, malaria and TB (46.196%) compared to only 17.885% of the pediatric disease articles. 2) Almost two-thirds (61.496%) of the AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis articles utilized a human rights social or legal justice frame compared to 46.1978% for the lower funded pediatric diseases articles which mainly used a moral or an ethical frame.

In conclusion, this study manifests that lower funded pediatric diseases are differently presented by the media, both qualitatively and quantitatively, than higher profile, higher funded diseases.