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THE CHALLENGES OF MASS MEDIA PUBLIC HEALTH COMMUNICATION IN RURAL COMMUNITIES

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THE CHALLENGES OF MASS MEDIA PUBLIC HEALTH COMMUNICATION IN RURAL COMMUNITIES

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

1.1 Background of the study

The mass media have been tasked with a critical role in promoting universal health. Certain individuals have approached this task with "evangelical zeal," disregarding decades of research and expertise in the use of mass communication for public health education (Anaeto, 2017). The commercial success of mass media is sometimes assumed to be directly transferable to influencing health behaviour, even though advertising typically attempts to change pre-existing patterns, but public health programmes frequently try to alter deeply ingrained attitudes and behaviours (Chemwaina, 2019). Gilluly (2009) asserts that the image of mass communication in public health is not entirely negative. Skillfully crafted media may result in the acquisition of information and the modification of relatively neutral attitudes. Notably, it is the media's role and obligation to collect information from the environment (surveillance function), analyze it (correlation function), and mobilize the public (mobilisation function) in opposition to a particular topic, scenario, or movement, as well as to amuse them (entertainment function). Public health communication, as a function of the mass media, is a preventative measure of communication in which health messages are distributed via media technologies and organizations with the goal of raising awareness about illnesses and afflictions in rural and urban communities.

However, it seems as if the Nigerian mass media have fallen short of their responsibility to educate people (particularly rural residents) and raise their awareness of their health and the illnesses that surround them. Sixsmith et al. (2014) seem to feel that the media has been ineffective in rural regions in terms of health protection, prevention, and treatment, as well as health promotion and awareness. Even issues concerning food and nutrition that recommend what people should eat and how they should exercise to avoid heart disease and obesity appear to have received scant media attention, leading to the conclusion that the growth and development of health communication in rural communities in Nigeria may have been stifled, as media practitioners and organizations may have treated health communication as unimportant. In view of the above, this research will focus on the difficulties associated with mass media public health communication in rural communities.

1.2 Statement Of The Problem

Diseases are one of the problems that the modern human population encounters (Okoro, Nwachukwu, and Ajaero, 2015). It is an ever-increasing menace. New diseases emerge periodically, and established ones develop new strains, putting the resources, patience, and knowledge of people, national governments, international agencies, and non-governmental organizations to the test (NGOs). According to Oyebanji (2007), referenced in Okoro et al. (2015), Nigeria's health care system is in shambles. Thousands of people are afflicted with malaria, typhoid, polio, chicken pox, diarrhea, guinea worms, and measles, among other diseases (both adults and children).

Each year, there are an increasing number of instances of these diseases, demonstrating that people are either oblivious to or unable of acting on the signals about these illnesses. According to Dada (2018), many individuals are dangerously uninformed of these disorders' signs and effects. However, information is critical for avoiding and mitigating the impact of such diseases on people, families, communities, and society at large. Thus, effective health information transmission through mass media aimed at increasing public knowledge of health-related topics would contribute to the improvement of people's health, especially those living in rural regions who face poor health practices, severe diseases, and disabilities (Krough, Ichijo, and Nonaka 2015). However, substantial worries and challenges about public health, family planning, and infectious and noncommunicable diseases exist in the majority of Nigeria's rural communities. This indicates that Nigerians have a debilitating quality of life as a consequence of a general lack of awareness about the majority of diseases. It is only normal that individuals would seek beneficial information regarding these health concerns from reputable sources during such trying times (Omoera, 2016).

According to Onabanjo (2015), the mass media (particularly television and radio) have positioned themselves in rural communities as the most accessible and information-patronized channel of mass communication. Due to its immediacy, ubiquity, and capacity to simultaneously reach a large, dispersed, and anonymous audience, television is a great medium for keeping people informed about current events through a variety of programmes.

News, interviews, chats, periodicals, documentaries, plays, and health-related activities comprise the mass media program. In particular, in the field of health, the majority of campaigns promoting healthy living, such as child immunization, family planning, raising awareness about a deadly pandemic, and the importance of avoiding certain health hazards, such as unprotected sex and cigarette smoking, are communicated to the populace through mass media programs (Ugande 2006, cited in Okwonn 2016).

To this end, Kogi State's mass media stations have a variety of health programmes on their schedules with the sole background of raising awareness about the state's health pandemics and highlighting the efforts of government and non-governmental organizations in the fight against the dreaded diseases.

However, the mass media's efficacy in delivering public health information in rural communities has been harmed by a variety of challenges. According to Okwonn (2016), these challenges have hampered the dissemination of health information through mass media, as well as rural residents' access to critical health information. In light of the above, this research will examine the challenges associated with mass media public health communication in rural communities.

1.3 Objective Of The Study

The overall aim of this study is to critically examine the challenges of mass media public health communication in rural communities. Hence, the study will be channeled to the following specific objectives;

1.        Determine whether rural communities have adequate access to public health information through mass media.

2.        Identify the factors mitigating against effective pubic health communication through mass media.

3.        Ascertain the opinions of rural residents on how those challenges can be remedied.

1.4 Research Questions

The research is guided by the following research questions:

1.        Does rural communities have adequate access to public health information through mass media?

2.        What are the factors mitigating against effective pubic health communication through mass media?

3.        What are the ways through which those challenges can be remedied?

1.5 Significance of the study

Prior to the advent of the worldwide pandemic "Covid-19," diseases and maternal mortality had been growing in Nigeria, with a high incidence in rural areas. Despite people' efforts to get credible information on these health issues, the majority of them still lack basic knowledge regarding the causes, modes of transmission, and prevention of these health problems. Thus, the value of this study cannot be overstated, as it will assist the Dekina, citizens, media outlets, journalists, the government, students, and scholars, among others.

To inhabitants of Dekina, this research will serve as a forum to voice their displeasure with the dissatisfaction acquired while seeking critical health-related information and the challenges faced when using mass media services in the region. The research will also educate journalists and presenters about the need of simplifying their remarks to the level of a normal layman, since the majority of ignorant individuals in rural areas also seek critical health information. Additionally, this research will convey to the government rural inhabitants' grouses about the discontent and challenges they face while seeking critical health information. As a result, it will draw the government's attention to the many methods to strengthen rural health broadcasting.

Additionally, this study will add to the existing body of knowledge in this subject and will act as a resource for academics, researchers, and students interested in doing future research on this or a related issue.

1.6 Scope Of The Study

This study is structured to generally examine the challenges of mass media public health communication in rural communities. However, the study will further determine whether rural communities have adequate access to public health information through mass media, identify the factors mitigating against effective pubic health communication through mass media, and ascertain the opinions of rural residents on how those challenges can be remedied. The study will be carried out in Dekina, Kogi State.

1.7 Limitation Of The Study

In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher experienced some constraints, which included time constraints, financial constraints, language barriers, and the attitude of the respondents. However, the researcher were able to manage these just to ensure the success of this study.

1.8 Definition of terms

Community: A community is a social unit (a group of living things) with commonality such as normsreligionvaluescustoms, or identity.

Healthcare System: The health care system refers to the institutions, people and resources involved in delivering health care to individuals. A health system consists of all organizations, people, and actions whose primary intent is to promote, restore, or maintain health such as hospital systems, patient care, insurance.

Health communication: This is the study and use of communication strategies to inform and influence individual and community decision that enhance health.

Mass media: This has been described as the organized means for communicating openly and at a distance, to many receivers within a short space of time.

Communication effectiveness: Effective Communication is defined as the ability to convey information to another effectively and efficiently either with good verbal, nonverbal and written communication skills help facilitate the sharing of information between people within a company for its commercial benefit.


This material content is developed to serve as a GUIDE for students to conduct academic research



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