Media crucial in reporting health matters and promoting acceptable behaviours

By Maryam Mtengulah

National Malaria Control Programme coordinator responsible for Case Management and Malaria Vaccine John Sande has urged media houses in the country to strengthen their role in reporting health matters and engaging the population to promote acceptable behaviors.

The call was made in Blantyre, on Monday, during a one-day media advocacy meeting which was organised by the Reproductive Health Division in the Ministry of Health with support from MOMENTUM Tiyeni Project on Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent Health, and Nutrition (RMNCAH+N) and Malaria.

Sande stated that although 2022 data shows that Malaria cases have reduced in the country, low media coverage and minimal audience engagement impedes efforts to eliminate Malaria by 2030.

“Eliminating Malaria by 2030 is achievable however the biggest challenge that the ministry has had is that the interventions we have been delivering are not taken by community members due to low media coverage.

“For instance, the number of pregnant women that are receiving SP to protect them during pregnancy is around 60 per cent and we need the coverage to be around 85 per cent, and in terms of children who should access Malaria treatment within 24 hours of the onset of the disease, we are still on 56 per cent instead of the required 90 per cent,” he said.

Deputy Director for Reproductive Health, Owen Chikhwaza said the country is doing well in reproductive health.

“Although most people deliver in hospitals, we have found that the leading cause of maternal mortality is infection and this is the reason we are advocating for hygiene in hospitals and amongst pregnant women,” Chakhwaza said.

He further advised media houses to intensify in reporting positively on RMNCAH+ N and Malaria for the country to win the battle against the diseases.

USAID-funded MOMENTUM Tiyeni is a five-year project, which started in 2022, with the aim of moving integrated maternal, newborn, and child health, family planning and reproductive health service delivery to scale.

Frank Maluwa of Lilanguka Community Radio Station in Mangochi called on the ministry of Health and its partners to engage the media more to ensure effective advocacy on health issues.

The call came as the media houses complained that that some health promotion officers who also act as public relations officers were not cooperative in responding to the media on health matters.