Today I attended a meeting named: “The Promotion of Health Awareness in Tanzania through Media” organized by international media namely RFI, Deutsche Welle, VOA, PRB and Broadcasting Board of Governors. It was a well attended meeting and many interesting inputs, however I had two important observations that I wanted to share with you all.
First and most important is “Who is driving the agenda on health?” Oftentimes we hear as we did today that “health news in media does not sell.” For this reason, all of us in the media tend to seek a ‘partner’ who will fund such stories because we claim, covering it from our own budget is “not worth it”. For this reason we find that often the agenda is driven by the donors and government who fund such programs for one reason or another. What we end up with is stories and reports that reflect such agenda thus a regular viewer may face a barrage of news about HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria or whichever disease or health issue is the ‘trendy’ topic among the donors and other funding bodies. Naturally stories like these do NOT sell because the primary audience is not the viewer or reader or listener but the funding party. IMHO
In order to make health news interesting and sellable, we need to come up with programs, articles, reports that focus on the viewers, readers and listeners. Health is important to everyone and I am convinced that however ‘poor’ we may deem a common mwananchi, they are ready to pay whatever they have, for good health. As we know and probably have seen, heard or experienced, in the unfortunate case of disease people are ready to sell assets and spend their wealth to regain health. Now if we can device an exchange whereby people are able to get information albeit for a small fee then immediately health related news and information will become not only sellable but ‘hot-selling commodity’ IMHO
Now of course this begs the question – how can we do that? I certainly have some ideas but of course in the spirit of this new shift – nothing is for free 😉  

Maria Sarungi Tsehai
Maria Sarungi Tsehai

An activist and advocate for change in Tanzania. Promotes positive change and education particularly for women. Known for launching the #changeTanzania hashtag on Twitter.