By Esther Nakkazi
The Uganda media could be saturated with heath system issues but their content minimally refers to research, keeping researchers’ findings on the shelves.
A study titled; ‘From Paper to Mike: An analysis of Health Systems Reporting In Uganda’s Print and Radio Media’, revealed that health systems researchers’ voices and their findings were missing in the articles.
“There seems to be limited interaction between researchers and the media. I am aware that so much research is done but very little is reported in the media and this suggests for a closer working relationship between the media and heath researchers,” said Dr. Anne Katahoire, the principal investigator of the research study.
“Researchers do not trust many journalists for fear that they (journalists) will misrepresent the research findings. That this is partly because journalists do not take adequate time to study and understand carefully the messages being conveyed by the study findings. Also sometimes journalist just wish to sensationalize the findings,” said Nelson Sewankambo the Principal, Makerere University College of Health Sciences.
The study was conducted in the months of March-June 2010 by a multidisciplinary team, from the media and academia led by Makerere University and funded by Research Matters, a collaboration between the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC).
Nasreen Jessani, IDRC’s Health Program Officer for East and Southern Africa highlighted that “With increasing attention being paid to evidence informed decision-making, it is critical to recognize the role of the media as a ‘broker’ between researchers and decision-makers as well as between researchers and the general public.”
“In Uganda, we need to better understand the context within which researchers, decision-makers and media are interacting so as to better plan for enhanced use of new knowledge in policy and practice.”
The team analyzed over 100 newspaper articles from four local newspapers and 72 radio programmes covering the four regions of Uganda. In-depth interviews with health researchers, reporters, editors, and radio health program presenters and producers were also done.