This guide is designed to support the media in their role of social mobilisation, policy advocacy, awareness creation, and community engagement for tuberculosis (TB) management and control. It provides information on key and current TB research and related issues in Uganda, as well as guidance on the role the media can play in sharing and engaging voices of the public on these issues.
In its opening material, the guide notes that: "The media can play a key role in creating awareness about TB as a significant public health concern, placing TB on the national health and development agenda and lobbying policy makers to develop relevant policy interventions. The media can also build the capacity of communities to demand accountability from leaders, as well as mobilising themselves for better health seeking behaviour." For example, good research has been conducted on TB in Uganda, but these findings and key recommendations have remained within the circles of the researchers and medical practitioners. It is suggested here that the media, if armed with the right information about TB, can be pivotal in "addressing the public information vacuum" and combating stigma and discrimination.
The guide includes:
- Current Global and National TB Issues
- The Global TB Management Framework
- Situation of TB in Uganda
- What is TB?
- Key Issues in TB in Uganda
- TB Stigma and Discrimination
- The Media and TB Management in Uganda - example tips: A radio presenter could choose to identify and highlight one TB myth/misconception every programme through a skit, a quiz, or a direct statement. A newspaper editor/writer could devote space on a strategic page and name it attractively and explain or demystify one myth/misconception in every issue. Readers could be given the opportunity to write back in response to the explanation so as to engage the public in an informative discussion about TB.
- Basics and Ethic Guidelines in reporting on TB
- Annex 1: Understanding and Reporting on TB Data
- Annex 2: How to Search the Internet for TB Information
- Annex 3: Commonly Used Terms in TB Work
- Annex 4: Possible Topics and Issues to Explore in-depth for radio and print features/programs
- Annex 5: People and Organisations Working in TB in Uganda
- Annex 6: Examples of Research Issues Addressed Regarding TB in Uganda
An excerpt from the resource follows:
"Media practitioners and media institutions should advocate for community-based surveillance systems where community members are trained in identifying people with TB-related symptoms counsel them and refer them to appropriate health facilities for diagnosis and further management. This strategy requires comprehension and full community buy-in because it may cause stigma or feelings of stigma. Therefore, the need for media's full involvement in creating understanding.
Media practitioners and institutions should work with community leaders and community groups to demand for better and more TB diagnostic centres and services. In the same vein, media should form partnerships with key community players to mobilise and support individuals suspected of having TB disease to go for diagnosis. The media can also help educate the people on what to expect during diagnosis. The media should emphasise the importance of early diagnosis (avoiding self-diagnosis) by going to hospital as soon as the person becomes suspicious of their symptoms. The diagnosis of disease is often completed during the first or at most, the second visit to the health facility...
Media practitioners and institutions can advocate for more and regular funding for TB treatment...
Access to treatment may be hampered by shortage of health workers; this is an area that the media needs to tackle as an urgent matter. Policy makers at national, district and health facility levels need to be engaged by the media on these matters.
It should be emphasised by media practitioners that TB disease is curable and treatment is available in specific health facilities. Media practitioners can support communities establish community treatment support groups/contact persons and mechanisms to provide continued support to those on treatment so that they complete it. The media can also support the documentation of such community initiatives and help disseminate lessons learnt.
It is important for the media top open debate on MDR [multi-drug resistant TB] and the implications of one developing MDR, so that people understand prevention issues involved and their responsibilities in preventing this happening.
The media practitioner and media institution contribute a lot to TB prevention at household, community and health facility levels. People who have previously suffered from TB and are willing to talk about their experiences can especially be utilised as key players in education campaigns, so are those who have cared for TB patients...
Media practitioners should build strong relationships either at institutional or individual levels with researchers and research agencies in Uganda to keep themselves updated on the distribution and manifestation of TB in the country and the availability of facilities where diagnosis and treatment is available. A list of these facilities can be obtained from District Health Officers and the national office."
This guide emerged from a broader project run by Panos Eastern Africa (PEA) called Enhancing Community Engagement in TB Research and Communication in Uganda [see Related Summaries, below, to learn more]. Funded by the Wellcome Trust, the project is designed to increase the visibility of TB research in Uganda and make more information on TB available to the public. In addition to strengthening the role of the media in TB management in Uganda, this guide seeks to clear society's myths, taboos, and societal norms around TB that can prevent accurate information from getting into the public domain.
Email from Okubal Peter James Ejokuo to The Communication Initiative on September 17 2012.