Another storm coming towards Bangladesh

December 11, 2007 | By | Reply More

Bangladesh has been identified as one among the five countries where HIV infections are rising gradually in the Asia-Pacific region. The level of the HIV/AIDS has exceeded all expectations since its identification in 1981.Before the super cyclone Sidr, Bangladeshi media bestowed huge coverage to aware the people and probably that helped saving millions of lives from the wrath of it’s destruction. But the media people are not that much aware for another storm called HIV/AIDS, which is coming slowly and silently towards the nation. Author: Zahid Al Amin

Experts on HIV/AIDS opined that the disease could be devastating hundred times more than any other disasters, which hit the country in recent decades. The media has already started to fight against the deadly disease globally but locally the media seems virtually sleeping.

Though Bangladesh is perceived to have low prevalence rates of HIV and AIDS, almost all of the risk factors that facilitate rapid transmission of the disease are present in the country such as the outbreak of HIV in neighboring countries, low level of knowledge about HIV among mass people, lack of knowledge about safe blood transmission as well as low ratio of condom use make the entire nation vulnerable to HIV infection epidemic.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh has been identified as one among the five countries where HIV infections are rising gradually in the Asia-Pacific region. The level of the HIV/AIDS has exceeded all expectations since its identification in 1981.

Panos Bangladesh, a leading international organization working for the development of mass people through media has conducted a study of present situation of media coverage on HIV/AIDS. The study revealed that most of the news stories on HIV/AIDS were published based on workshop, roundtable, discussion sessions in the capital and elsewhere in the country.

Three to six reports on the basis of any occasion were published in the district level newspapers in a month. The study also finds out that most of the reports are not written on the concrete issue of HIV, while the repetition of the information is seen in these reports.

On an average eight reports published in the national level newspapers in a month and poor number of advertisement on the issue are seen.

The coverage of the electronic media is also very poor. Only an advertisement have been broadcasting now a days in the television channels of the country but the special reports on HIV have not been done enough.

Meanwhile, another study was conducted by this correspondent on the basis of coverage on World AIDS Day in the 20 national level dailies and 20 divisional dailies. It showed that The Bangladesh Observer and The Daily Jai Jai Din published a single column report in the front page on HIV/AIDS. Seven national dailies put the story in back page and two newspapers did not cover at all on the day. The study also revealed that three editorials (The Independent, The News Today and The Daily Amar Desh) were published on this particular issue. Pictures of rally and discussion were published in 12 dailies. Only an advertisement was published in The Daily Manab Jameen.

Simultaneously the coverage of the dailies published from the divisional cities was very poor. In 20 local level dailies 15 reports and six pictures were published. No editorial, article or advertisement found seen in those newspapers.

Tony Micheal Gomej, Director of Utsho, the first ever tale film on HIV said that media always highlights the high-risk groups including sex workers as the HIV infected. But different studies show that the migrant people as well as Injecting Drug Users (IDU) are the most vulnerable groups for HIV infection.

He also raised the issue that only a few numbers of drama, documentary or movies were made on the issue.

“The government approves the donation for four movies but only a movie-Meghla Akash of Nargis Akter was made on HIV with the government support so far”, he informed.
S.M. Mashroor Rahman, an expert on HIV/AIDS criticized the advertisement, which has been displaying in the electronic media ‘Banchte hole, jante hobe’ saying that its message is quite obscure. The basic information of the advertisement for example what have to be learnt, who will inform and how- was not mentioned properly.

“There are some reports published in different newspapers with wrong information those help to create panic among the mass people regarding HIV than aware”, he said.
“Media and NGOs of this country are not accountable to the maximum number of people, they are accountable to a very few, that means to their masters”, Ameer Khosru, Bangladesh Representative, Voice of America told this correspondent.

For that reason, I believe role of NGOs regarding HIV campaign is not enough. The total campaign against HIV, in my view is totally NGO controlled and which is the top most obstacle. Media should come out with serious campaign against HIV and they should not depend on NGOs, which work for HIV.

Farid Hossain, Bureau Chief of Associate Press in Dhaka said that media in Bangladesh is biased towards political issue and the social and public issues are being neglect in spite of its demand to the people. The number of comprehensive reports on HIV/AIDS is very poor. Media people have to take the responsibility for creating awareness to prevent HIV and remove the stigma that spread centering the disease from the society as giving the leadership in the campaign.

“The media people usually want to reach to the primary source for making a report on HIV. The source of the disease is hidden in most of the cases”, Shamol Dutt, Editor of The Bhorer Kagoj said.

He also raised the question that those who design the program for HIV, yet to be prepared adequate information bank for the media people.

While M A Salam, Chairman of Ekushey Television told this correspondent that the local NGOs have been working with a huge fund but it is not clear to all that how they are utilizing the money. If they would discuss with the policy making level as well as the media people before the investment of the budget, it would be fruitful to make more programmes like drama, film, documentary or investigative report on the deadly disease HIV/AIDS.

“ETV always speaks for the mass people and we are working from the inspiration of social responsibility. We have done a lot on different aspects of HIV/AIDS in our Ekusher Shomoy and Desh Jure apart from our regular news programmes,” he added”
S. M. Mayeen Ahmed, Country Representative of Panos Bangladesh told this correspondent that there is a gap between the media people and the experts as well as the policy makers of HIV/AIDS. It is crying need to take a coordination effort nationally for HIV immediately. We are giving fellowship and many other encouragements for the journalists to make more quality reports on HIV.

The people who work for preventing HIV failed to catch the attention of the media people, since they failed to create their own source for making reports on the disease.
He also told that the journalists of Bangladesh are needed to have longtime training on HIV/AIDS. The organizations, which work on the issue, can offer fellowship or mentorship for the journalists to educate on HIV.

Dr. Lazeena Muna, Advocacy Adviser, UNAIDS told The Bangladesh Observer that media has been working very positively this year. We are observing that media people have the will of giving perfect information. They are trying to make report with correct information that we never seen in the previous years.

She appreciated the role of radio and television as they have bestowed huge coverage on the World AIDS Day. Their seriousness regarding HIV has fascinated me at large.
“Our media is not prepared yet completely for combating with the HIV. Aiming to fulfill the need for building up a partnership, National Media Forum on HIV/AIDS was formed with the support of UNAIDS Bangladesh. It can be an excellent platform for the media people but they did not response yet as much as we expected”, she said.

She also said that media people have to come forward to give the leadership for fighting against HIV/AIDS and we will provide all sorts of technical supports.

Dr. Md. Hanif Uddin, Deputy Programme Manager, National AIDS/STD Programme (NASP) said that the day is not far away, when people will hear the sobbing of their neighbors as they have lost their relatives. If the adequate measures are not taken immediately to prevent the disease, it will spread epidemically like the African countries.
“Stigma and discrimination continue to impede prevention and treatment efforts and the media can play the vital role in this regard”, he said.

[The writer is a Staff Correspondent of The Bangladesh Observer, E-mail:]

Category: Opinion

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