The Media and Public Health
Community and Public Health
October 12, 2009
The local and international media play a vital role as the link between health workers and the larger public. Health authorities educate and entrust the media with essential health information, which is then relayed to the public in readily accessible formats through a variety of media channels. In order to distribute information about the H1N1 virus to the public, the U.S. Government developed a training program to help the media understand the complexity of this disease so that they would be able to report about it effectively. The media helps health workers expand ...view middle of the document...
For this reason it is important that the media focuses on more than one health issue or condition.
I took time to explore the health section of msnbc.com. Over the course of August to October 7, 2009, Swine Flu or the H1N1 virus has been the most reported medical issue. The reports range from the treatment of the virus to the financial burden the virus has imposed on the U.S. alone. The reports emphasize on how there has been a spike in deaths of children because of the virus. There are reports on the changes the swine flu has cause in everyday or routine activities such as communion. Although it is important that we know swine flu cases are on the rise, the media is focusing too much attention on the virus. Some people feel that the media has placed fear into the public by reporting what can be “outrageous” stories. Instead of telling the public how many children are dying from it, the media has a responsibility to report how the public can help prevent more cases. The reports should further explain the most of the mortality cases were people who had other illnesses as well. There should also be reports on how the virus was contracted in the first place. The report that talks about how the vaccine for Swine Flu may not work should not have been released until there was more research done by the reporter.
It is important that the media informs the public of the major health concerns and ways to control and prevent them. There were several stories on diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, and cancer. However, there are a fewer stories on weight, exercise and nutrition. This is one area that was not discussed as often as it should have been. When taking a look at table 2-4 in the text, (Essentials of Public Health), there should be in depth reports on how important diet and exercise is to the prevention of other health conditions that were discussed not only over several reports through this media outlet, but included on this table. The stories on tobacco, alcohol and drug addictions were few in number. These are issues that have a huge affect on the public but are not being address as often as they should. Alcohol and drunk driving is reported more around holidays, it should be reported more often. Drug addition is rarely mentioned. It is important that media outlets...