Media should advocate for key populations programming

Media should advocate for key populations programming
Published: 18 March 2018 (328 Views)
Zimbabwe AIDS Network (ZAN) with support from Amplify Change hosted journalists for an engagement on pro-key populations budget, policy advocacy and analysis.

According to NANGO the meeting set to introduce journalists to HIV key populations programming in Zimbabwe, propose strategies for effective evidence based health reporting and discuss common approaches to advocacy for increased key populations' access to health services.

"It was commendable that reporters and editors that attended the meeting managed to identify key populations as sex workers, LGBTIQ, prisoners and artisanal miners. Some said they understood that key populations generally receive negative publicity in the media because they are stigmatized. The ZAN Deputy Board Chairman, Walter Chikanya, said "HIV prevalence rates among certain key populations including sex workers, transgender persons and prisoners are significantly higher than those of the general population" NANGO reported.

"Chikanya explained that key populations are more vulnerable to HIV infection for reasons such as more frequent exposure to the virus, involvement in risky behaviours, weak family and social support systems, marginalization, lack of resources and inadequate access to health care services."

"In addition stigma and discrimination are widely recognized as undermining efforts to prevent the spread of HIV and pose barriers to accessing care and treatment services," he said.

Chikanya encouraged journalists to have open dialogue, share experiences and recommendations that strengthen collaboration of civil society and the media seeing as social exclusion and health inequalities facing key populations means they cannot benefit from health services.

Journalists were also reminded to inform the public about what really causes or contributes to public health and development issues, and educate them about the concept of a healthy community, recast public health concerns and encourage other professionals and community members to find out more about public health and development issues in general, and to get involved.

Journalists also brought to light that looking at the legal framework in Zimbabwe, it's a challenge to advocate for LGBTIQ priorities in the media and the same legal barriers make it difficult to write positively about LGBTIQ in state controlled media houses. It was also highlighted that due to fear of being labelled journalists shun writing about LGBTIQ.

The meeting resolved that there is need for positive engagement between the media and CSOs and a need to create safe spaces where the media can interact with key populations and get to write their stories.

ZAN also noted the need to incentivise journalists through issuing awards in order to improve coverage of health by the mainstream media.

- Byo24News

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