Nutrition International (NI) organized a provincial orientation workshop for journalists and media personnel on Diarrhea prevention and management in children younger than five years. The workshop focused on the harmful effects of diarrhea in child growth and nutrition. The workshop intended to sensitize the audience on utilization of mass media in influencing knowledge and thereby changing behaviors.
The workshop aimed to enhance the capacity building of the journalists regarding the impact diarrheal illness has on children, and how significant of a role can they play in increasing awareness to the masses, through effective reporting of cases associated with diarrhea and by educating the general public on adapting the necessary preventative measures.
Gracing the occasion with his presence, Additional Director General Health Sindh, Dr. Waqar Mehmood hailed the efforts of NI to promote the awareness diarrheal diseases and said, “Pakistan is ranked amongst the top seven countries with the highest number of diarrhea cases, and the increasing number of deaths associated to it. It is imperative that our countrymen should understand the importance of health and nutrition of children, and adapt all necessary measures to prevent deaths caused as a result of these illnesses”.
It is pertinent to mention that despite the great progress made by media science and the many new tools and the vaccines now available to protect children, far too many preventable child deaths occur.
Commenting at the occasion, Dr. Fatima Saad, the provincial Manager Nutrition International highlighted the need for programs addressing child health, and especially diarrhea in Pakistan. NI is conducting a capacity development program in collaboration with LHW program in Sindh to support the use of Low Osm ORS and Zinc managements of diarrhea.
While introducing the work that NI is conducting in promoting evidence and improving services through capacity building, and provision of commodities, she emphasized the role of media in supporting the health department, and other non-governmental agencies in addressing child health issues. NI is working on Fortification and supplementation to address hidden hunger among women and children from the marginalized segment of society. NI’s past work and future aim to closely collaborate with the governments at federal and provincial level.
The program then had a session by the Nutrition International consultant on diarrhea and how it affects health of children. The session provided the available scientific knowledge, and evidence on effectiveness of specific measures that can prevent, and treat diarrhea in children.
At the end of the presentation by the consultant, there was a discussion session where the technical experts on child health such as Professor MN Lal from Civil Hospital, Dr. Kamal Asghar from UNICEF and Mr. Zahid Memon from Aga Khan University answered questions of the media personnel. Mr. Yasin, National Program coordinator Sindh was also present at the occasion.
At the end of the session, Dr. Ghulam Hussain Shaikh, provincial manager for National program for primary health care and family planning Sindh gave his closing remarks. He reiterated the significance of media and especially mass media on improving knowledge of care givers. In addition, he highlighted the importance of community health workers such as Lady Health workers in increasing knowledge of the communities. He suggested that media may play a significant role in highlighting the hard work of LHWs that will result in their motivation to conduct the hard task of their reaching every household. Highlighting the role of media to minimize this gap, he said, “Media continues to take an upsurge in Pakistan, and with this the expectations of people also take a rise. It is imperative for media to educate the general public on importance of healthcare. By increasing the frequency of reporting diarrhea and pneumonia cases, and publishing content where the key message of adapting preventive measures is delivered, media can play a significant role towards educating on improvement of health for children, as well as preventing child deaths
Journalists from the leading media houses of Pakistan participated with great zeal in the workshop.