Mass Media and Coverage of Health Awareness System in Nigeria

Mass Media and Coverage of Health Awareness System in Nigeria

Since this topic would be better described as the affect of mass media campaign on health awareness system in the country, it is proper and appropriate to review relevant past studies in the area of information dissemination with emphasis on those information, the media used which are likely to affect the acceptance or rejection of a given message and also the factor that facilitates or retards the success of public health information campaign and health itself.

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First of all it should be noted that old forms of communication, ie, tradition and communication would not be effectively discussed in our study.

Obviously, life is our greatest treasure life is man’s most valuable possession and very crucial in order of value in health. Without good health life is not worth living: for the joy and pleasure in life is not there again: for instance some body who is not in good health cannot move about at will, he cannot feed very well as he suppose.

Never the less, there is more than one approach to health problems. As a matter of fact mass media stands as the only messiah to help people see clearly about health issues. This is because of its effect on diverse audience through the media information dissemination and diffusion. According to Tubbs and mass (1980) P.#, they viewed diffusion of information in terms of, how qickly news or information travels and the communication channels through which it speaks to a community of receiver! Also; Rogers and shoe maker 91971) P. 12 explained diffusion as a special type of communication channels which is basically concerned with how innovation spread to the members of a social system?

The central point in diffusion is that information is sent out to the public through some communication channels accepted to the source and receiver. The most commonly used channels are the mass media and inter-personal communication channels.

As it is today health issues and media is a development programme.

According to A.C Sclmon:

A sick man not only suffer pains and discomfort to him self, unable to supply his own needs: but also require one more persons to stop doing their ordinary work and spend their time in carrying for him. In this it becomes a burden to others because they must nurse him. Would these people not to have contributed to the development of the country.

In addition the sick person is also a menance to everyone in his immediate neighborhood because many diseases are easily transmitted from one person to another. But when health is impaired, it cannot be restored in a day. It is a great error to look upon diseases as a matter of less important though a care can be affected by taking a few does of some medicine. Most diseases require many days to heal and looking at these viewpoints it is evident that the community as a whole and every individual in the community should place a very high value on health Sclmon (1976).

In modern concept of health the contention that health is merely freedom from diseases is not adequate in terms of modern needs and present day understanding of health. Truly a person must be free from diseases and disable defect in order to have an acceptance level of health. The term health encompasses more than these that is why modern health and mass media should be a perfect actor to ensure a reliable standard of living – C.L. Anderson 91970) P. 165.

When ever a message is designed there must be a target audience. The source also seeks for a reliable way to make his message effective on the target audience Health messages are not an exception. As a result of this, health awareness campaign is dependent on the mass media to inform, educate, mobilize, sensitize and motivate the mosses in order to remold the attitude towards health issues so that the masses will participate actively in health programmes that will better their living and enhance national development. In Nigeria, historically, the mass media are seen as powerfully utilized during public enlightenment campaign. Nwosu (1986)P. I writes about importance of the media as mobilizing people support for development in Africa:

The initial source of message; which it give to the people through opinion leaders and other individuals. The media are also important in the ability to emphasize events that influence audience to see the event as important. In other words people rely on the mass media i.e radio, television, magazine, journals, books, newspaper, etc. would be enough in propitiation. Other communication as the case may demand, should be followed by other important step which allow information to move smoothly through the web of inter personal relationship especially in developing countries. In fact the concept of interpersonal communication is very important in Nigeria, where more than 70% of the populace are in the rural area and do not have access to the mass media. But as a result of subsequent development, Nwosu pointed out that is only the radio that readily available and accessible to a greater percentage of the populace due to its advantages over other media. However, television and videos have contributed enormously to the health awareness campaign especially HIV AIDS, malaria and other dreaded diseases just to mention a few.

It should be noted that before the advert ofalaria medicine, sudden death in our local and urban areas are subjected to either petilene or what they call “ABIKU presently, malaria and the HIV remain the worlds most serous discable. Recently, there is a desperate need for practical effective and safe drugs to cure diseases. Also insecticide and vaccines are sued to combat protzoa affliction. According to orient journal for medicine, it states that commencing awareness to the people in the city and villages through the mass media.

According to the above assertion, it should be noted that the media in the context of health has extra or additional roles such as mobilization, motivation, education, for the masses on health issues so as to enhance the people standard of living.

Similarly, there are analysis relating mass media, use of interpersonal communication eg discussion of news events and this has a positive impact and it exposes the masses on relevant media messages. Nwosu argued that, interaction and discussion could be expected to follow political campaign coverage, individuals are likely to expose themselves to media coverage. It uses the concept of communication utility to refer to this expectation. This is significant correlation between media exposure and interpersonal communication.

Also Schraman believes that other channels of communication, part from the mass media can be categorized under the inter-communication and these two reinforces one another.

A study carried out by Ugboaja in Malaysia on family planning motivation reveals that information about family planning matter are received more from interpersonal sources them through the mass media which are available though under utilized.

For instance, there have been studies in Benin city Uche in a study of communication habit among rural and urban opinion leaders as reported in Africa communication consists the first sources of awareness in diffusion ofinformation. This studies confirm the importance of interpersonal communication in the information diffusion process. As a matter of fact, the mass media are also very crucial in the process of information dissemination so stated by Nwosu (1986:vol.1) in order to achieve the campaign before other relevant factors or step should be taken. The media disseminates the health information to the families and other social institution of the health issue and acceptance of the goals.

It has been observed that, the mass media used as a sole instrument of change are relatively ineffective. Even though communication and development experts have claimed that the media with out the assistance of other modern and sophisticated men with respect to this assertion, the recent development in media has boasted the quality and effectiveness. The fact that a greater member of people still reside in mural area must be accelerated. Therefore development sholars have stressed the need to develop a closer the between the media and the process of development.

(Okenwa 2002)” Schramm (1964) explained the relationship between the media and national development in 60’s listing 12 things or roles media performs in the task of national development. These tasks which have come to be the development function of the media include:

To widen the horizon of society members.

To focus attention on important issues in society

thereby setting agenda for society.

To create a dismate for development

To help change strongly held attitudes or value.

To feed the interpersonal channels

To enforce social norms

To help from tastes

To effect attitudes lightly held and canalized stronger attitudes.

To help substantially in all types of education and training.

Although, the extent to which these tasks are carried out will depend on the kind of media and the particular situation that calls for the use of the media or operation of the particular media, health issues are of national interest and must be treated with ultionate real no matter the structure of media system in the country since the media have included audience participation programmes, health issues have taken a credible out look. And through media localization, health issues and its awareness campaign especially on HIV and family planning has attain an appreciable level in national development. Despite the fact that the media performs vital rele on health campaign awareness, illiteracy level of the people has posed a great problem in achieving these role and how to curb the wide spread of diseases in our country.

Nwuneh : 91980:15), identifies 5 (five) factors mentioned by Klapper that diminish percussive effectiveness of the masses as:

  1. The process of selective, perfection and retention which restricts information to that which is compatible with the individuals presents beliefs.
  2. Groups and group norm which restrain the individuals propensity change.
  3. A kind of audience selective exposure process further screens away disagreeable information during the in the personal exchanges of information during the interpersonal exchanges of information originally disseminated by media.
  4. Opinion leaders who select from among the available information and their adherents.
  5. And commercial mass media which tend to avoid transmitting information, which is marked different from the prevailing norms.

According to Nwumeli, these factors ordinarily lessen the persuasive influence of mass communication. On the effectiveness of information campaign, Nwosu noted that:

People will be best informed and persuaded that the information campaign planners adopt a multi media approach or strategy that effectively combines mass and interpersonal mean of communication. As inserted in Nwosu 2986: vol. 2

Several studies have stetted that information campaign fail due to the fact that they do not attract the audience. Hyman and sheet sly 91947:421 vol.11) in their article titled: some reasons why information campaign fail” noted that there is no perfect relationship between the nature are amount of metial presented in an information campaign and other absorption by the public. It is important to know those social factors, we create interests or opinion about a topic. A media campaign designed to influence these factors may be more effective. When campaign is able to gain the attention of the audience they can succeed. A renew of a successful campaign by Mendelson suggests the necessity of delineating target audience that are likely to be receptive to a particular message. While the mass or audience may be unacceptable to a single message, a well – designed campaign using a variety of messages in several media should be successful.



          Rogers has shown that in many respect, deep-rooted attitudes cannot be easily changed by simply exposing the audience to modern media. Only new practices and principles, which do not run in line with, established or accepted traditions and customs may be easily accepted. Generally, the media need to be reinforced by interpersonal channels in order to elicit the desired reactions.

There is an evidence based on the investigation made that individuals once they are exposed to information, change their views differently, each in the light of his own prior attitude. Hyman and Sheatsley (1947:420-423) in an attitude test on information campaign, results concluded that:

People seek information, which is congenial with their prior attitudes. They discover that merely giving information to audience does not necessarily influence their attitudes”. If the information continues to flow from publics who are already predisposed to accepting its condiment, it might end up without any change in attitude. Thus, it can be seen that when ever attempts have been made to change attitudes and behaviour through mass communication, researchers have found that the media act as a contributory agent to change. Considering a lot of studies done in different fields it has proved that public reacts differently to a problem than a pressure group. Information does not necessarily change attitude per say. Different media are effective is different easy and at different point. The media only creates awareness while face to face communication brings about change but both are complementing. However, Engel et al (as in Tubbs and Moss) observed that when the use is large it is usually to accept the inefficiency of mass media. The implicit meaning is the identification of the attitude and the motivational structure of the youth as well as group influence as a crucial factor in the success and failure of communication messages.

Reason for choosing Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) and Health care Magazine as a case study.

When the need for information dissemination cropped into Nigeria society, it was like a babbling target and specialized audience it is clear that health matte cannot be effectively discussed without recognizing its contribution to some people from health hazards.

NTA, through her primary health programmes has elucidate on health and life of the people. Even without commercial contracts, their slogan would better read “To Empower the Health of the Nation” than “Station for excellence”. Both in media policy and objectives whether owned by the federal, state or private must stave to accomplish activities that have been identified as development communication such concepts like! Providing access to a wide rang of people, determining the peoples need for development information and programming for these needs, supporting horizontal and vertical flow of information or upward and down ward flow of information, and raising the people’s awareness and adoption of the methods that promotes development.

On Health Matters: The perils of HIV. Most villagers describe HIV as the unseen untimely and persistent murder. Relying on eh statement of cordela Rwenyagira of the Republic of Tanzania, when AIDS invaded the city of kagara, she said that.

The spirit of kagera closed to the lake was always considered blessed, no one had to sweet to feed himself here. Bananas grow all around, there are fishes in the lake and a good chimate. Then AIDS came and the blessed life ended.

One may ask why HIC should treated differently from other infections and dreaded diseases within the scope of our study but the answer is not far fetched from what we knew before now. Unlike other epidemic diseases such as cholera, measles, HIC infection as seen by Dr. Hiroshi Naka Jima- Director General world Health Organization, is

Dangerous because its working remains invisible for a long time, there is no certain duration, no serious symptoms linked with initial infection. On average world wide it challenges our ethical moral found actions as no disease here ever done but AIDS. The powerful has last interest and the power-less have no choice.

In the above assertion, it is essier recently to predict explosive impact of AIDS epidemic Recently all around us, abounds predictions for a rapid spread of AIDS, the war, displacement of the people, a deteriorating economy, natural disster, and chronic shortage of basic necessities for HIV prevention.

The world is no longer associated with the clamoring for Meeks, tuber culosis, child until the introduction of western Region Television Authority, in 1959 by chief Obafemi Awolowo. The credibility of television to day is at its supper stand considering the believability of motion pictures that perfects its messages. S the saying goes, “seeing is believing” ie, audio visual, Okenwa stated that the rural population is one that believes in the spectacle picture gives television greater creditability.

Thus: as a tool for developing the rural the television has a much larger potential than radio, but in the African situation, many of these immense potentials can be exploited for a number of reasons.

The television is considered an elitist medium and it acts off a large part of the rural population.

Television is chiefly seen by many as an entertainment medium.

Television through its motion picture appeal make the audience think twice of their position, participate in the programme especially when something like HIV patients are shown. People also understand how some diseases are transmitted that AIDS is not through touch but blood transfusion or casual sex relation.

On the other hand, the implicit of Health care magazine is that all pitfalls in other media of maris communication are consolidated in magazine. Okenwa writing on the print media and Rural Development ascented that : there is a general feeling that rural development cannot be engineered by the point media. This is due to assumption that most of the rural inhabitants the largely illiterable people. This may not be, however, very tree as there exists a bulk of literature village teachers and retired civil servants who have found their way back from cities…

These are many advantages that make it necessary to consider adoption of print media for rural development purpose. These in clued:

The print media contain detail information that can provide adequate explanation elaboration, and illustration to issues of relevance.

The products print media in permanent, in the sense that is permeation can be stated and retrieved from them when necessary, thus opinion leaders could get their relevant messages for the rural audience.

The print media can choose to operate in local languages that can be easy by develop since the people are proficient at least in the speaking of the local language. That a few experimented local papers have failed is not a strong enough to conclude that it would not be worth while venture.

Health care magazine has excelled on exposing people to health issues like family planning, effective breast feeding, etc. since its message is designed to communicate health to malaria, but for HIV. Every mass media both broadcast and print dedocetes enough air time and a good space for health campaign on AIDS.

Protase Karianis in the hand book for AIDS prevention in Afric edited by peter Lamptey and peter poip said!

Our society has become an environment of death, so many people in the society at large have died and those in the sexual active age group are frightened and ensure nobody is able to do every thing very permanent. When a man sees his wife die of AIDS and his son o daughter returns from city also sick, why would he invest in the future? Why should he spend money and coffee tree that will take several years to mature or plight more land than necessary to feed his family in years ? today many people are spreading whatever money they have on drinks because they say what is the point, I shall die soon too.

Never the less, a healthy nation is a wealthy nation. Nigeria would insuldly meet her primary function if the health of the nation were not adequately maintained. But HIV must be out target.

However, most of the national          AIDS programmes are guided by objective and principles of global AIDS strategy:

To provide policies, information campaign, health and social services that people need in order to protect themselves from HIV infections.

To meet the gradually expanding needs on AIDS.

To care for who are effected with HIV as they go on to develop AIDS.

To plan for and cope with the ripple of AIDS to ensure or lesse money other wise free treatment of AIDS Victim under health programme, etc.

Programmes on AIDS through the mass media operators an opportunity to information enlighten and educate the masses.

The Nigeria mass media for example the electronic media use high quality production technique and attractive, prominent citizens in their various programmes to convey well researched public health messages. The celebrates used add credit and believability to the mass media messages.

This article was extracted from a Project Research Work Topic



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