Call for better health education

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Cambodian Journalists Alliance (CamboJa) executive director Nop Vy said health coverage was improving. However, information related to promoting change for better health policies and financing remains low. Hean Rangsey

National and international civil society groups are pushing for better health education, particularly in regards to HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other communicable diseases.

The organisations said the press can play an important role in promoting health education, which they said is still limited.

On Wednesday, the groups issued what they call universal health coverage reporting guidelines for journalists to raise awareness among media professionals about health reporting.

Choub Sok Chamroeun, executive director of NGO KHANA, said he had noted that media coverage and involvement of journalists in the production of health education articles remains limited.

He urged the press to produce videos and articles that explain how diseases can be easily transmitted from person to person. Most Cambodians do not have access to information about better health care, he said.

“I think this matter is not just for civil society organisations or the government. The press is also an important part. Journalists bring important messages and introduce health guidelines that have been presented by experts in the health sector. We call on them to help fill in the blanks.”

Rachel Ong, regional coordinator of the Global Fund Advocates Network Asia-Pacific (GFAN AP) said the press is an important ally in the fight against diseases. Journalists are very influential and prompt leaders to resolve issues that arise.

Ong said she wants reporters to quote experts to inform vulnerable communities to be cautious about health matters.

“I am working with Global Fund in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. I am very interested in Cambodia and the government has paid a lot of attention. I would like to see Cambodia continue its efforts to fight all infectious diseases,” she said.

Cambodian Journalists Alliance (CamboJa) executive director Nop Vy said health coverage was improving. However, information related to promoting change for better health policies and financing remains low.

Vy said the shortcoming of some journalists is their limited ability to cover comprehensive news. He said there are very few media outlets in Cambodia that dare to write news which exposes the problems of society or information that urges the government to pay more attention.

“In terms of ability or professionalism, I think not all of them are incompetent, but the younger generation of journalists does not have a lot of work experience, so there are gaps. We have to support them through training.

“Some media outlets care about teaching their staff but other institutions do not pay much attention,” he said.

Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Wednesday that prior to the arrival of Covid-19, health-related information had been limited.

She said the ministry had made efforts to produce health education messages related to communicable diseases such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other important diseases, in order to raise public awareness.

“In the context of fighting against Covid-19, I have observed that our newspapers have done a lot to help spread the word, and we are calling for more coverage. During the floods, public health issue also poses a challenge. We are therefore working to deliver information to vulnerable communities so they can be vigilant,” she said.