By Solomon Okoo
Dr Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary at Uganda’s Ministry of Health, has urged the media to cooperate with government in promoting health programmes in the country.
Delivering a keynote address at a public dialogue on the ‘Role of Health Journalism and Health Communication in Health Service Delivery in Uganda’ on October 25, 2023 in Kampala, PS Dr Atwine emphasized the role of the media in health promotion.
She noted that journalists have a major responsibility of informing the public of the existing government health programmes as part of national development.
“The national building is not by the leaders in parliament or us the PSes, but it is done by the citizens of the country who are sane, able and have the capacity, Dr Atwine said at a the dialogue organized by Makerere University’s Department of Journalism and Communication. “It is taking the pride of Uganda in you.”
The PS claimed that most times, reporters run negative stories, which are detrimental to the socio-economic growth of the country, reneging on their duty of relaying accurate information.
In Dr Atwine’s view, the impact of such negative reporting manifests in high mortality rates and drugs which expire in health facilities because people are afraid of seeking health services for fear of perceived harm therein as portrayed in media coverage of the country’s health sector.
“Professionalism and integrity have been diluted and it is killing our country. When you write something and people die, who’s responsible for that death?” asked Atwine.
On her part, Dr Aisha Nakiwala Sembatya, the Head of Makerere University’s Journalism and Communication Department, noted that the Department was collaborating with the School of Public Health at Makerere as part of efforts to introduce a master’s programme in Health Promotion and Health Communication, with the main goal of promoting the health of Ugandans.
“We are at an advanced stage of designing a collaboration program in Health Promotion and Health Communication. We want to hear what the Ministry of Health thinks on what we are doing and what we plan to do,” Dr Nakiwala said.
Representing the Dean of Students of the School of Public Health (MakSPH), Dr Christine Nalwadda, noted that several procedures are currently being undertaken to develop this programme.
“At the school, we have 10 strategic goals and four pillars. One of the pillars is partnership and it’s dear to us as the school of Public Health – that is why we want to have a common postgraduate program,” Dr Nalwadda noted.