|Community Monitoring in Health Resources for the Practitioner|
How to Use Media for Health Rights Accountability?
The media- both print and electronic are powerful channels for communicating an advocacy message to the government and to policy makers. It is also an important tool for public education on the issue of concern. Effective use of the media can result in increasing the visibility and credibility of the issue being advocated. Sometimes it may even so happen that when an issue is getting consistently highlighted by the media, the policy makers start taking action without being directly persuaded to do so. Institutions like the National Human Rights Commission and the National Women’s Commission and their state counterparts are mandated to take suo motu (on their own) action and in cases of rights violations ask the government authorities to provide explanation, relief and compensation. These commission can and do take such suo motu action on the basis of media reports. Despite the powerful and beneficial role that can be played by the media, media advocacy is better not left to chance.
The advocacy plan should include a deliberate plan for media advocacy. If this is not done, there are risks that the reportage on the issue can do more harm than good. It is useful to remember that the media can sensationalise an issue and this may not be useful from an advocacy point of view. In addition to this the media often has the dominant perspective on an issue (which is seldom rights based) and this may reflect in their coverage.
Some strategies and activities that may be used for effective media advocacy are given below.