Ranchi: Over 25 journalists attended a Roundtable for Journalists – an interaction with the media on TB – organised by REACH at the Ranchi Press Club today. The meeting was organised in keeping with the prioritisation of TB as a crucial public health issue for India and Jharkhand today.
Addressing the media, the State TB Officer, Dr. Rakesh Dayal spoke of the need for the media’s involvement in ensuring a mass outreach on the TB programme to all those affected by the disease. “We need sensitised and sensitive media persons to help affected persons to be aware of the services and schemes that are part of the RNTCP. This media roundtable can be the beginning of a process of working with the media for positive impact on TB in Jharkhand,” Dr. Dayal said.
The objective of the roundtable was to provide journalists with updated information on TB as well as recent data and innovations on TB in Jharkhand and India. The sessions were facilitated by Dr Jayalakshmi Shreedhar, medical doctor and journalism trainer; Dr. RajabhauYeole, WHO Consultant, Jharkhand and Dr. Pankaj Dhingra, Senior Medical Officer, REACH.
The discussions at the roundtable spanned the basics of TB, the disease burden and issues such as transmission, risk factors and an overview of the Revised National Tuberculosis Control Program (RNTCP). The socio-economic status of TB, stigma and recent developments on nutrition support and private sector engagement were also discussed.
The meeting also saw theparticipation and inputs of TB survivors and Champions. They shared their stories of resilience and transformation from TB-affected to community advocates and champions of the disease. RekhaVerma, TB Champion and advocate, spoke about her struggle with stigma and misconceptions during the battle with TB. “I have decided to advocate on TB and its symptoms, treatment and the government programme after I recovered from the disease. I am committed to make sure that others do not face the same challenges that I did when I was being treated,” she said.
The roundtable also featured a panel discussion that brought together Dr.Rakesh Dayal, State TB Officer, State TB Cell, Jharkhand and Kumar Saurav, journalist. Dr Shreedhar moderated the discussion. The panellists discussed the kind of stories that the media can cover on TB and the challenges in producing such quality stories.State specific issues such as providing quality medical care to the indigenous population were also discussed.
“TB journalism is more than reporting on health. Journalists need to look beyond medicine, into issues such as human rights, deprivation, budgetary allocations and social exclusions. The issue of TB and health is not a soft issue- it concerns stories of deprivation, poverty, access to human rights and other significant factors,” Dr Jaya Shreedhar, Consultant, REACH said.
Since 2009, REACH has been working closely with the media to improve the quality and frequency of media reporting on TB. REACH has supported journalists with the information that is required to report more frequently on TB, a disease that kills over 1,300 Indians every day.