INDIA: Leveraging the news and social media for a national discussion

INDIA: Leveraging the news and social media for a national discussion

Article posted on December 15, 2016.

Pediatricians lead advocacy to position child health as most talked about issue in India

Credit: 2011 Tushar Sharma, Courtesy of Photoshare

This story is part of the 2016 round-up of World Pneumonia Day. Events and campaigns were held in many countries around the world to remind policymakers that pneumonia is still a silent killer taking the lives of many young children. Child health advocates and members of the Global Coalition Against Child Pneumonia organized various advocacy strategies to shine light on the need to continue the fight to bring an end to this disease.

India’s top country ranking for most child deaths due to pneumonia and diarrhea created a flurry of news coverage and social media activity to draw awareness to the issues. With 60 print articles, digital content, and radio shows shared across the country between November 12-14, 2016, child health was a national discussion around World Pneumonia Day this year.

Reporters were quick to pick up the new 2016 Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report: Reaching Goals Through Action and Innovation, which detailed India’s statistics on under-5 mortality and coverage of proven interventions. In many ways, the media became the ultimate advocate in the fight to bring an end to pneumonia in India, by educating the general public and calling for action to save the many children who are lost to these diseases.

Social media channels in India also swelled with discussions around pneumonia and child health. On November 12, #WorldPneumoniaDay trended at fourth place for at least three hours in New Delhi, making it one of the most talked about issues.

In an effort to educate families, several radio stations interviewed pediatricians on child health, immunization, and pneumonia. Plus, News18 held a Facebook Live interview on pneumonia with Dr. Prasanna Bhatt, a senior consultant pediatrician, which received over 4,200 views. During the half-hour interview, Dr. Bhatt explained the causes and symptoms of pneumonia, as well as prevention and treatment methods. He noted burden of pneumonia in India and worldwide, and how malnutrition, lack of clean water, poor sanitation, and air pollution put children at risk of contracting pneumonia.

He offered parents recommendations, such as exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and when it’s appropriate to seek health services to catch child pneumonia early. When it comes to prevention, he noted effective vaccines and encouraged adults to quit smoking to limit air pollution.

News18 also interviewed Dr. Kanav Anand, a pediatrician at Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, to produce a short informational video titled, “World Pneumonia Day: All That You Wanted to Know About the Disease.”

With Children’s Day taking place only two days later on November 14, Global Citizen India (GCI) –with support from communications consultant Global Health Strategies—built upon the momentum to advocate for children through a robust Twitter campaign. The focus was child health, immunization, and the role of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. GCI is a social platform that mobilizes youth to take action in support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, including health.

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