Media Action Insight Blog
Yvonne MacPherson, Director, BBC Media Action USA
What does it take to create effective global health communication? Our US Director Yvonne McPherson draws on our experience in the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak to evaluate the WHO’s new Whatsapp service to tackle COVID-19.
Director, BBC Media Action USA
The world’s hopes for a vaccine for COVID-19 cannot be overstated.
A vaccine will help prevent new infections, and more than that, it will help businesses and schools in hard-hit countries get back to normal. Vast amounts of money have been invested in finding a vaccine and media reports update us regularly on the progress of over 200 candidate vaccines under evaluation.
There is also important work on ensuring equitable access once a vaccine is available, and some mention of concern about vaccine hesitancy – the delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines even when vaccine services are available. Public health officials recognise vaccine hesitancy and refusal is a problem, but there is little evidence that countries around the world have plans to address it.
The vaccine hesitancy problem
Even before the COVID-19 crisis, the WHO declared vaccination hesitancy one of the Top 10 threats to global health in 2019. At that time, the world saw spikes in vaccine-preventable diseases – global uptake rates for the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine slipped by 10 per cent. In reference to COVID-19, the WHO Director of the Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals, Katherine…
James Deane and Maha Taki
Head of Policy and Senior Adviser, Media Development
In 2018, BBC Media Action asked whether the financial crisis confronting independent media around the world warranted a much more ambitious, better organised and resourced response from the international community. We proposed then the establishment of a new global fund, focused initially on resource-poor countries where the crisis was most acute.
Two years on, in the midst of a global pandemic in which trusted information is critical – and critically endangered – it is even more clear that this Fund is essential to the future of independent and public interest media.
In co-operation with, and with the support of, Luminate, a newly published, detailed feasibility study now outlines why such a Fund is so urgent, and how it could be set up, governed, resourced, structured and evaluated.
This study builds on almost a year of consultation and debate with media and media support organisations, donors, international organisations and others.
The case made for this Fund is ambitious. It needs to have resources of at least $100 million per year – but could usefully be 10 times that size. We argue that resources should come from official development assistance, which currently allocates…
Director, BBC Media Action USA
On March 20, the World Health Organization announced its latest tactic in its fight against COVID-19 – a new ‘Health Alert’ information service on the popular Facebook-owned messaging app, WhatsApp. Users simply sign up to the service by sending a ‘hi’ message to one of seven Swiss phone numbers – one for each of the seven languages offered. It replies by asking subscribers to select from a list of information options ranging from the latest COVID-19 numbers to myth busters.
With 2 billion users, WhatsApp is an ideal channel for the WHO to communicate trusted health information to people around the world – not least because the messaging app has also become a conduit for mis- and disinformation about COVID-19 – covering how it spreads, symptoms, false cures and conspiracy theories. With over 5 billion mobile phones users globally, this service meets people where they already look for information. And with information about the virus changing daily, a health alert from a reliable source is needed now more than ever.
This is not the first time WhatsApp has been used during a global health emergency. In 2014, BBC News created an Ebola service on WhatsApp in English and French, which…
Health Adviser, BBC Media Action
It has been 25 years since the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action – an ambitious roadmap of 12 critical areas which, if addressed, would ensure women’s active participation in all spheres of public and private life.
These are important goals which are central to whether societies, communities and families thrive.
But for too many women and girls, these are also still generations away. In many societies and cultures women are still closed off from public life, and concepts like equal decision-making, a choice of work and equal pay, the right to choose if, who and when to marry, and if…
Director of Policy and Research
Independent media are vital to enabling peaceful and effective development. But that role has rarely been so endangered, with the consequences for governance and democracy so great. The international response to the threat is poorly prioritised and poorly organised.
The crisis confronting independent media around the world is a crisis of democracy, freedom and human rights. It is also a crisis with profound implications for development and peace.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of the classic work, Development as Freedom by Nobel Prize winning economist, Amartya Sen.…
Regional Director, Asia
In a time when people have begun to talk about Earth’s climate emergency, it is understood that climate change is already happening: in the countries in which BBC Media Action works, our communities are already experiencing increasing and increasingly powerful droughts, flooding and extreme weather. The poorest people are the ones who feel the impact of this increasingly variable weather most, and who find it hardest to recover.
Helping people cope with these changes is an even more important part of our work. Small actions can make an enormous difference in each family’s ability to survive…
Director of Strategy and Partnerships
At BBC Media Action we are dedicated to the cause of media freedom – the principle that expression and communication through media is a right that should be exercised freely -which is at the very core of effective democracies and inclusive societies. This freedom can never be taken for granted, and cannot be exercised in many places around the world.
This World Press Freedom Day commemorates another dark year, with precipitous plunges in rankings on media freedom indices and increasing – and increasingly egregious – attacks on journalists, most notably the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.
Genevieve Hutchinson and Emebet Wuhib-Mutungi
Senior Health Advisors, Advisory and Policy
As World Health Day approaches, and as we look towards the first-ever UN High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Coverage later this year, we’re sharing insights from BBC Media Action’s work to help health workers and communities work better together to build a healthier world.
In low-income countries in Africa and Asia, many health systems are staffed by community health workers. In Nepal they are known as Female Community Health Volunteers, in Ethiopia, Health Extension Workers, while in India and Bangladesh they are generally known as Frontline Health Workers.
Whilst the names may differ,…
In the 2018 Global Gender Gap Index, India ranks a dismal 108 out of 149 countries. The country’s 253 million adolescents are currently growing up with a deeply-rooted gender bias which disproportionately affects girls.
Marriage and motherhood is the mandate for adolescent girls in India. Most Indian parents pay dowries for daughters’ marriages. While more girls are receiving an education than ever before, this is typically done to improve their marriage prospects, rather than their career choices. The onset of adolescence for girls spells a curbing of their interaction with boys, their…
Director, BBC Media Action USA
Imagine: Ebola is spreading in your city and you’re scared. You see a tweet from a friend saying you can avoid catching Ebola by drinking or bathing in salt water.
What would you do?
Last month, I recalled this story at a technology and ideas hackathon called CredCon. The event aimed to address the challenges of reducing misinformation online, and I was there to lead a session on health misinformation. Many clever ideas were being hacked out, from building tools to help people – and, importantly, their social networks – be more aware of their sharing habits, to using machine learning for…