Uttar Pradesh clocking a mere 40.9 percent Routine Immunization (RI) coverage, the newly appointed Joint Director for RI in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Dr AP Chaturvedi announced an intensified immunization drive for UP. According to him, the RI drive would begin in the last week of May, and would continue till August, 2012.He shared the schedule of the planned immunization drive at the State Consultation on ‘Media’s Role in Supporting Routine Immunization’ held in Lucknow on 4th May, 2012. The meeting was organised by UNICEF, UP in collaboration with the Department of Health and Family Welfare to launch a media training initiative on RI in 15 low performing districts from May to
Dr Mrinal Pande, Chairperson of Prasar Bhaarti and eminent journalist, was the Chief Guest. She urged media persons to find new ways of covering news related to RI and to package their stories in a way that caught the attention of the people and to give it prime importance in their publications. She drew attention to how in our grandmothers’ times, it was common to hear of families which out of say thirteen children had lost as many as eight but no one questioned if any of these were on account of missed immunization. She urged media persons to treat RI as a hard news story, like any other political story and not look at it as a soft story. This she said could be done by linking the child health and mortality rate in a district to the performance parameter of the MLAs. Looking at present media trends she said, “that if so much space could be allocated to moon sighting, sunrise, sunset timings, films timing, television listings, surely the media could also allocate space for a people’s metre in the main editions of the newspapers and not in their supplements or magazine sections.”Adele Khudr, Chief, UNICEF Field Office of Uttar Pradesh pointed out that, “Immunization could reduce child mortality. It is an easy to monitor, straight forward and cost effective intervention. As many as two to three million children’s deaths globally from vaccine preventable diseases could be averted through RI. According to her, “we have to achieve the 80 percent target of complete immunization and maintain it. Currently, UP has reached the 41 percent level”. Recalling a recent study done by UNICEF she pointed out one of its key findings suggested that given a choice, parents were still not giving priority to immunization. The media’s role therefore should be that of a motivator who has the power to change attitudes.
Usha Rai, a reputed development journalist presented the results of the media tracking exercise that covered media stories in print and electronic media over a six-month period. The report highlighted the kind of space and treatment the subject was given – from headings, number of words, to photographs, captions, slant of the story, and the manner in which an adverse event was reported. She shared that maximum media coverage on RI was related to Adverse Events Following Immunization (AEFI) incidents which
did not always reflect balanced coverage.
Vidya Raghavan, Director Communication, New Concept, New Delhi made a presentation on the feedback received from media persons in the 15 low RI performing districts on the patterns of RI coverage in UP. The report’s findings will guide the training curriculum for UNICEF’s initiative on the media’s role in supporting routine immunization in the 15 low performing districts of Uttar Pradesh. Their feedback would also help inform health departments at the state and district level, paving the way for better linkages and working relationship with the media. The consultation was attended by immunization officers from 15 districts, health department officials, representatives from WHO and media representatives from newspapers, television channels and news agencies.