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This guide, published by Panos London, highlights the devastating impact of tuberculosis (TB) in the developing world and advises journalists on how to play a key role in combating the disease.
The author calls on the mass media to reverse the underreporting of TB — a curable disease that threatens the lives of 14 million people around the world and kills about two million every year.
The public need information based on evidence from research and they need questions asked of governments on their behalf. This is where journalists can play a vital role, says the author. Clear information in mass media will dispel myths and combat fear and stigmas. Journalists should communicate research findings and challenge policymakers to respond more effectively.
The author suggests story ideas such as: What is your country’s TB profile? How much is spent on TB? Who are the leading researchers and key policymakers? Are research findings impacting on policy? What prevents people from being diagnosed and getting treatment? What do ordinary people, politicians and policymakers know about TB?
Other angles to explore include cultural and religious influences, the impacts on children, the role of traditional healers, the importance of nutrition and the connection between TB and HIV/AIDS.
Giving TB a human face will also draw attention. To do this, journalists need to tell the stories of affected people, highlighting the human cost. Well-known TB survivors can be powerful role models, but journalists must be sensitive to issues of confidentiality, the author warns.
The guide provides background on TB prevalence, vulnerability, diagnosis and socioeconomic impact, backed up by statistics and case studies. It includes contact information for research organisations and lists a number of useful web sites.