Strengthening communication between health professionals and the media




The Pacific Community (SPC) Public Health Division hosted a communications and media training at the Holiday Inn recently.

Facilitating a robust exchange between health professionals and the media, the established Communication Department within the Health Division of the Pacific Community (SPC) is set to play a pivotal role in enhancing dialogue, transparency, and knowledge-sharing for improved public health outcomes across the Pacific region.

Communication officer for SPCs Public Health Division, Evelyn Mani said  their main means of communication was through published stories on the SPC website as well as SPC social media platforms.

“We send important information directly to the media through a mailing list that has been set up so media houses receive stories and press releases,” she said

As the media actively promotes public health, it highlights the powerful connection between sharing information and community well-being, showcasing a partnership that transforms society into a healthier and more knowledgeable community.

Ms Mani noted that Public Health was everyone’s responsibility.

“The media houses are a very powerful mouthpiece, eyes and ears for people. They hold not just the community but the government and authorities responsible,” she said.

Ms Mani said being more informed and educated would help if there were media houses that specialized or dedicated a side to health and could work closely with health experts.

As the health department faces challenges in using media for health communication, finding strategic solutions is crucial to overcome obstacles and ensure the widespread sharing of important health information.

“One of the challenges is because we are very diverse and geographically spread out region so I think that is a major challenge because we are unable to report things when it happens,” Ms Mani stated.

The issue of connectivity problems in the region also remains a concern. Ms Mani also brings to light the challenge of translating important health information into local languages.

It is noteworthy that the effectiveness of media campaigns in shaping public health behavior and awareness undergoes assessment, a deeper understanding of their impact emerges, paving the way for informed strategies that can positively influence and transform community health outcomes.

“We work closely with the monitoring and evaluation team within SPC that the communication department works very closely with to ensure that before we run campaigns we do pre-surveys for instance to identify areas that need improvement,” Ms Mani shared.

Social media platforms serve as a vital tool for the dissemination of information in the Public Health Division. She said health information and education especially published on social media had been the go-to for any information, especially for health.

Touching on the importance of the media workshop in the public health sector, Silina Motofaga, clinical services program team leader noted that the workshop was vital for staff as most of the time media attention is something that was usually avoided, so the workshop helped clarify doubts.

“I think it is something that we should do more often so that communication is made easier in terms of the work that we do. Our work is well understood but communicating it forward in terms of media, it takes a while for the messages to go out,” Ms Motofaga said.

She also echoed the important role that the media and communications and media department played in disseminating information.

“Being able to use clear and simple language is vital instead of technical words,” she echoed.

Concluding the media and communications workshop, Ms Mani highlighted that their communication strategy for 2024 centers on healthcare initiatives in the region, aligning closely with the SPC corporate strategy to ensure cohesion between key messages, vision, and missions.

Brittany Nawaqatabu and Ivy Mallam are final year journalism students and part of the Wansolwara editorial team.




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