29 Apr 2012

Editors’ panel highlights importance of immunization in media at IGNOU-UNICEF Health Editors meet

IGNOU and UNICEF Health Editors' meet on April 26
at Hotel Royal Plaza, New Delhi
Veteran journalists Mr. Vinod Mehta and Sir William 
Mark Tully chaired the valedictory session.
April 26, 2012: A high level group of editors from Delhi and Madhya Pradesh came together for a brainstorming session, today, to mark the Global Immunization Week as a part of the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) and UNICEF partnership on immunization initiated last year.
Setting the context, Dr. Ajay Khera, Deputy Commissioner, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, New Delhi informed that the Government of India has declared Year 2012 -13 as the year of Intensification of Routine Immunization.
Focusing on the fact that out of  26 million children born every year in India, one-third do not complete their immunization, national editors discussed  the crucial role that media  can play for tackling this issue.
Sir Mark Tully, veteran journalist said, “Undue emphasis is laid on curative medicine rather than preventive measures and that is why I entirely support the immunization campaign. For spreading awareness traditional media like radio can still be very effective to reach remote areas of the country”.
Emphasizing on the need for health communication to be simple, icon of Indian journalism, Mr. Vinod Mehta said, “Health issues are often communicated in a complex manner. Stories have to be simple in order to communicate effectively. Strategies like celebrity endorsements as seen in the case of the polio program, can make a huge difference.”
Mr. Palash Surjan, Editor, Deshbandhu, Madhya Pradesh pointed out that MP has one of the lowest immunization rates - 42% against the national average of 60%. The need to build capacities of grassroots journalists and sensitize the large number of women Panchayati Raj Institution members was emphasized by him.”
Caroline Den Dulk, Chief of Advocacy and Communication, UNICEF, said, “Today’s discussion highlights the need for large-scale partnerships, bridging information gaps and building trust at all levels in order to prevent millions of under five children dying from Vaccine Preventable Diseases.”
Citing the example of Right to Education, Mr. Saunand from IGNOU and Mr. S.K Singh, Executive Editor, Zee News proposed the concept of “Right to Immunization” for ensuring an equitable approach for IRI. This would call for all stakeholders including media to join forces.
Ms. Nidhi Kulpati, NDTV India highlighted the need for media to focus on the frontline workers  who are crucial for delivering health services in remote areas Mr. R.K Singh, Editor Navbharat Times and Mr. P. Somvanshi, Resident Editor, Hindustan pointed out that in areas where both media penetration and immunization coverage is low, innovative means of communication such as mobile phones should be used. Voicing the critical role played by Urdu media, Mr. Alamgir, News Editor, UNI highlighted the critical role of Urdu media in reaching out to minorities and marginalized communities. Ms Sanchita Sharma, Health Editor Hindustan Times pointed out that negative news or controversies can be turned into huge opportunities and highlight critical survival issues.
Stressing on the need for two-way flow of information between the media and health authorities, Kounteya Sinha, Health Editor, Times of India said,  “We are interested in doing good stories. Immunization is a major problem area for the country and we are only too eager to help provided there is complete transparency.”
“Compared with the national media the state and district media has extensive reach and it is important to engage specifically with these grassroot level journalists. Branding with local connect should be created around the concept of Routine Immunization,’” said Mr. Q. W Naqwi, Aaj Tak.
Mr. N.K. Singh, senior media editor from Madhya Pradesh also emphasized the need for branding and making RI a social programme where diverse groups of civil society members are engaged. 
Dr. Henri van den Hombergh, Chief Health, UNICEF added, “Routine immunization can become routine if there is popular demand and awareness for it and the role of media therefore is absolutely crucial”.
Developmental journalists who have contributed some of the best immunization stories since the launch of the partnership were recognized and awarded during the function. The awardees included Mr. Kounteya Sinha, Health Editor, Times of India, Mr. Nitin Yadav, Senior Sub- Editor, Amar Ujala, Mr. Santosh Singh, Senior Correspondent, Prabhat Khabar, Mr. M.A. Alamgir, Chief Sub Editor, UNI Urdu, Ms. Shefali Chaturvedi, Senior Manager- Programming- Radio Dhammal24. Media professionals from Madhya Pradesh who received the certificates are Mr. Sundip Pouranik, Principal Correspondent IANS, Mr. Raju Kumar, Principal Correspondent, The Sunday Indian, Ms. Ruby Sarkar, Special Correspondent, Deshbandhu, Ms.Ankita Mishra, Asst. Editor, LN Star, Mr. Rakesh Malviya, Freelance journalist, Rohit Shrivastava, Senior Reporter, Dainik Bhaskar and Mr. Pankaj Shukla, City Bureau Head, Navdunia.

Caroline den Dulk,Chief, Advocacy & Partnerships, Tel: +91-98-1810-6093      

Geetanjali Master, Communication Specialist, Tel: +91-9818105861,
E-mail: gmaster@unicef.org                   

Sonia Sarkar, Communication Officer, Tel : +91-9810170289

Anil Gulati, Communciation Specialist, Tel : + 097-052 538802
Email : agulati@unicef.org

S. Saunand, IGNOU. Tel: + 81 30 35 8629
E-mail: ssaunand@ignou.ac.in

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