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 Health issues are germane to the survival of the human race. Issues relating to health are considered very important to all strata of persons in the society irrespective of their socio-economic and political status as well as their political affiliations. It is in view of this that countries of the world take health matters particularly those on epidemics seriously because if they are left unattended to they can result in great catastrophic. It is to avoid catastrophic that countries of the world go all length to nip such problems in the bud. Anchored on the Information, Social Responsibility and Agenda Setting Theories, this paper found out how much attention was paid by The Guardian and Punch Newspapers on the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) especially in helping to enlighten the public of the deadly nature of the virus and the generally acceptable best practices in dealing with the EVD. The paper ascertained the extent to which media coverage helped in not only creating awareness on the epidemic but also how much coverage is been giving to the spread of Ebola. Using the content analysis method, The Guardian and The Punch newspapers were critically analyzed along the lines of their news report; feature stories, articles, opinion, advertorials as well as editorial write up in order to ascertain how well media coverage helped in stemming the tide of Ebola. It was observed that both newspapers paid close attention on the Ebola Virus Disease. KEYWORDS: EVD, Health Reporting, Health Promotion, Media INTRODUCTION

 The World Health Organization (WHO) in its report on Africa for 2013 identifies that over 62% of the population of Africa have poor health status while over 75% of the population lack access to proper medical care thereby being responsible for the low life expectancy rate which is said to be on the further decline with life expectancy ratio for men being as low as 45 years and that of women being between 50 – 62 years. Some of the major areas of health concern is the high rate of malaria cases which is said to be responsible for more deaths than even HIV/AIDS, maternal mortality, infant mortality, HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Cholera, cancer and the most recent and threatening situations is the current spread of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). A lot of evidence on the health situation in Africa have shown that poverty, poor standard of living and poor access to basic amenities of life including portable water, clean environment/ air, good food for consumption are some of the issues threatening the living standard of Africans. However, a lot is needed to ensure better health and living standard for Nigerians by both the private sector, Non-Governmental Organizations, Government at all levels and their parastatal as well as the mass media. The mass media is said to be at the fourth estate of the realms, hence it is seen as having the responsibility of helping to promote better health standards and living across Africa through its interpretative reports and other educative/ enlightening programmes. International Journal of International Relations, Media and Mass Communication Studies Vol.2, No.2, Advanced societies of the world have shown concern on those factors that can affect meaning exchange and have led to urbanization and industrialization. The contemporary society has assumed an ever increasing complexity. Urbanization and industrialization have thus radically reconstructed the realities around man in virtually every aspect of life. We are today in a mass society. Mass society comprises people of widely varying tastes, education, social classes, economic standing, religious and moral learning, languages and every other conceivable attributes of human society… communication, the lifeblood of human co-existence, expectedly, is bound to take newer dimensions. Apart from improving ways of communication between known parties, there is a need to devise and use means that extend man’s sense of speech, sight and hearing. These senses are at the fulcrum of the encoding-decoding interface. This need finds fulfillment in the mass media of communication, which are specialized technical channels for society-wide message dissemination to receivers of widely varying characteristics (Agba, 2000) According to a USAID report (2009) it states, “The media is an important ally in any public health situation. It serves the role of being a source of correct information as well as an advocate for correct health behaviors. But before the media can take on that role, it needs to understand the virus, the issues surrounding it, policy and practices, and finally, recommended correct behaviors.” Pulitzer (1994), in the North American Review states that, “Nothing less than the highest ideals, the most scrupulous anxiety to do right, the most accurate knowledge of the problems it has to meet, and a sincere sense of moral responsibility will save journalism from a subservience to business interests, seeking selfish ends antagonistic to public welfare”. In a nutshell, this paper focuses on the role of the media in health reporting but in this case, reporting Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) using The Guardian and Punch Newspapersfor the study. LITERATURE REVIEW/ THEORETICAL


Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a deadly disease which medical science have confirmed is a very deadly disease with capacity to kill the host body in a matter of weeks depending on the individual’s immune system. It spread so fast especially through contact with an effected body and resulting in the death of so many people including health workers. There are a lot of speculations and assumptions about Ebola with so much ignorance making the rounds. It is the lack of knowledge and information that resulted in the death of more people than should have been as friends and relatives of the infected had contact with those who have contacted the virus and died as a result of this. Those who died from the virus were also improperly disposed or buried further leading to wide spread of the virus as World Health Organization reports on Ebola confirmed that the virus does not die in the host after the death of the host hence contact with the corpse by others could lead to their infection as well. All these are pointers to how much the lack of information or the availability of information and proper sensitization could have helped to remedy the situation and result in the salvaging of more people and families from the scourge of the deadly Ebola Virus. And this is where the media becomes imperative. Okunna (1999) identifies that, “the mass media performs a number of functions, which benefits the individual as a member of a society. These function range from serious informational and educational functions to other lighter functions. International Journal of International Relations, Media and Mass Communication Studies Vol.2, No.2, 43 Role of Media in Health Promotion “Media is an important ally in any public health situation. It serves the role of being a source of correct information as well as an advocate for correct health behaviors. But before the media can take on that role, it needs to understand the virus, the issues surrounding it, policy and practices, and finally, recommended correct behaviour” (USAID, 2009). The local and international media play a vital role as the link between health workers and the larger public. Health authorities educate and entrust the media with essential health information, which is then relayed to the public in readily accessible formats through a variety of media channels. For instance, in order to disseminate information about the avian influenza to the wider public, the U.S. Government tasked the Academy for Educational Development with the responsibility of developing a training program to help the local media understand the complexity of this disease so that they would be able to report about it effectively. The mass media helps health workers expand their audience reach, which is crucial considering the fact that face-to-face channels of communication often require too many human resources and reach only a small number of people in large, underserved rural areas. The mass media provides an important link between the rural residents and vital health information (USAID, 2006) According to Boyd (2009) “the mass media, in the form of the radio, television and newspapers are an effective way to persuade target audiences to adopt new behaviors, or to remind them of critical information. Besides informing the public about new diseases and where to seek help, they can also keep the public updated about immunization campaigns. The mass media can “empower rural populations to fight major causes of infant mortality such as diarrheal dehydration and diseases which can be prevented through vaccination, inform large numbers of people of seasonal or daily variations for such activities as an immunization campaign or availability of a new product or service, teach new health skills such as how to mix oral rehydration solution, promote new health behaviors such as taking ivermectin once a year, motivate ad hoc or organized listening groups, and increase community acceptance of health workers.”


 Messages for a Vaccination Campaign In order to increase the number of children less than a year old receiving vaccinations in Manila, Philippines, radio and television broadcasts were created because almost everybody utilized one or both media channels. According to a study done later to determine the efficacy of the campaign, using the radio and television “resulted in more children being vaccinated on schedule…These results show that in places where people use mass media regularly and vaccinations are available, effective radio and television spots can increase vaccination rates and extend the reach of health workers.” Reaching Out to Rural Communities: Radio Spots “The backbone of our mass media program is the 45 second promotional spot. Why start with spots? Because they are quick and easy to produce and broadcast. In the same spirit we make low cost tools, such as the gazety, accessible to large numbers of families, we broadcast dozens of spots on over ten fm stations every day, day in and day out. With the spots working for us, we developed short rural radio programs by recording local skits and brief interviews with International Journal of International Relations, Media and Mass Communication Studies Vol.2, No.2, pp.41-50, May 2016. Powerful synergy between two communication channels is achieved when village skits are broadcasting on local radio stations” (Goether Peter, 2009). In places where radios are still popular, they can be used, with great success, as health communication tools. Not only are they cheaper and more readily available in rural areas, their programs can also be adapted to suit local needs in terms of language, culture and values. In Africa, radio spots or advertisements are used to combat malaria. However, owing to diversity, education and others some rural dwellers have access to newspapers while more urban dwellers read newspapers either purchase or at the news stand thereby providing a means to keep abreast with the happenings around them

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