‘Media plays key role in health’

Assistant Minister for Health Alexander O'Connor (middle) shares a moment with journalists, from left, Mereseini Marau, Prashila Devila, Anshoo Chandra and Ashna Kumar during the Ministry of Health Media Workshop at Novotel Suva Lami Bay. Picture: JONA KO

Assistant Minister for Health Alexander O'Connor (middle) shares a moment with journalists, from left, Mereseini Marau, Prashila Devila, Anshoo Chandra and Ashna Kumar during the Ministry of Health Media Workshop at Novotel Suva Lami Bay. Picture: JONA KONATACI

THE media plays a crucial role as a key champion for change in health behaviour, says Assistant Minister for Health and Medical Services Alex O’Connor.

Mr O’Connor, while officiating at the Health Reporting for Improved Health Outcomes workshop at the Novotel Suva Lami Bay Hotel in Lami on Monday, said during emergency or outbreaks, the ministry relied heavily on media partners to provide critical health information to affected communities.

He said these news reports could mean life and death for communities.

“The media plays such a crucial role as key champions for change in health behaviours and as the early warning system for health emergencies,” Mr O’Connor said.

“These news reports can mean life and death for our communities and as such, this is something that we need to get right.

“This is why it is so critical that we get information out to our communities in ensuring accuracy and timeliness and in a way that gives them practical, clear information about how they can protect themselves.”

Mr O’Connor said the difficult part was translating complex medical information into something that the community could understand.

“Given the potential for medical reporting to have powerful effects on the public, it’s important that not only we as health authorities but that the media also is provided the opportunity to have a common understanding of the medical science, so that this can help them translate information for the community’s consumption in a timely and responsible manner,” he said.

He said the media held the power to ensure that the general public was provided with the latest, accurate and timely information to enable right actions to be taken by families in ensuring their health and welfare.

“That is why it is important that making sure that information is presented in a way that is empowering, but does not cause confusion and misunderstanding, is critical,” he said.