|BRIEF REPORT ON MEDIAIDS EXECUTIVE BRIEFING
HELD ON JULY 7, 2006 IN SHILLONG, MEGHALAYA
On July 7, 2006 Internews Europe in partnership with the Foundation for Responsible Media (Formedia) conducted the first executive briefing on Media and HIV/AIDS issues in the North East region of India, under the joint MEDIAIDS project.
The two-year MEDIAIDS project has been co-funded by the European Union and DFID India. In 2006, MEDIAIDS is focused in the underserved region of northeast India, namely Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. Among these, Manipur and Nagaland are two of the six high prevalence states of India. So far, the role of the media in the fight against the spread of HIV has been extremely limited in comparison to the pressing needs of the northeastern region.
The first step of the MEDIAIDS project in this region was to bring together primary stakeholders engaged in the dissemination, production or utilization of information. The objective was to galvanize each of them for a collective media response to combat HIV / AIDS in the region. With the broader aim of creating a better informed and responsive public environment on HIV/AIDS issues.
Representatives of the Directorates of Information & Public Relations (DIPR) of each State Government, IEC Officers of the State AIDS Control Societies (SACS), senior journalists and editors of local daily newspapers and senior representatives of All India Radio, especially from the North East services, were invited for the Executive Briefing. Spokespersons from networks of positive people and NGOs working on HIV / AIDS issues were present alongwith them.
Members and officials of the North Eastern Council were also invited as special observers. The Council is perceived as a potential primary stakeholder to create a collective platform of ownership for combating AIDS in northeast India.
The specific objective of this first MEDIAIDS Executive Briefing was to bring the stakeholders together and engage in discussions about the current HIV/AIDS information practices, strengths, existing gaps in the information loop for HIV / AIDS and the reasons for it.
In the first session, different points of view and perspectives were presented by highly respected representatives of the Government of India, international agencies, the press, All India Radio and civil society. Namely, Mr. Agrawal, Joint Director, IEC, National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), Mr. Thalari, Communication Advisor, UNAIDS, Mr. Veliath, Communications Officer, UNICEF, Mr. Manas Chaudhuri, editor of the Shillong Times, Mr. Lalrosanga, Deputy Director-General, All India Radio, Northeast (NER 1) and Mr. Singh, Chairperson of the GIPA Alliance.
After a break, there was an open session for interaction between speakers and other participants. The discussion centred around issues already raised by the speakers and proposals for improving the media response to HIV / AIDS in the region. Some of the concrete suggestions were regarding production and publication of an HIV / AIDS glossary of terminology in each of the main local languages and the participation of Networks of PLHIV in the Intermedia Publicity Coordination Committee (IMPCC). (The full list of propositions and inputs is detailed in this report further below.)
After the open forum, each group of participants (Governments representatives, Media professionals, and PLHIV Networks and NGOs) were given specific input forms to gather basic information about organizational use of information and institutional processes.
Apart from serving as a basis for formulating upcoming activities of MEDIAIDS in northeast India and responding more appropriately to the needs, the input forms are an eye-opener on the vacuum of pro-active and co-ordinated information flow in the region. The accrued information can help to build mechanisms that fill the information gaps and support the fostering of a collective response to the HIV / AIDS epidemic. The main outputs from these forms are highlighted below.
Finally, the most heartening aspect of the MEDIAIDS Executive Briefing was the effort that each participant made to come for this half-day session --- whether it was a 27-hour road and rail journey from Wokha in Nagaland, three landslides on the road from Mizoram , pressing official engagements or illness. This is a very clear signal that important stakeholders are keen to come together for the cause and will play their roles adequately, given the right platform.
PROFILE OF PARTICIPANTS:
Thirty persons were invited and attended the Executive Briefing.
They represented the following:
The participants represented the Seven states of North East India, except Sikkim, i.e.: Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura. Below the details by State of each of the participants:
- State Government Directorate of Information & Public Relations
- State AIDS Control Society, IEC Officers
- Networks of People Living with HIV (PLHIV)
- NGOs, including faith-based organizations
- Local Press
- All India Radio
- North Eastern Council
Mr. Ranjit Sarma, DIPR
Ms. Jahnabi Goswami, Assam Network of Positive People
From Arunachal Pradesh:
Mr. Supriyo Deb, DIPR
Mr. Tashor Pali, IEC, SACS
Ms. Deepali Dodum, Arunachal Pradesh Women’s Welfare Society
Mr. Mahej Singh, IEC, SACS
Mr. Gautam Sharma, ‘Poknapham’ Newspaper
Mr. Ratan Singh, Manipur Network of Positive People
Deputy of Mr. P. S. Dkhar, DIPR
Ms. C. Marbaniang, IEC In-charge, SACS
Mr. E. H. Chen, Voluntary Health Association of India
Mr. P. P. Shrivastav, Member, North Eastern Council
Mr. N. j. Sharma, Advisor, Health, North Eastern Council
Mr. M. Chakrabarty, Media representative, North Eastern Council
Ms. N. Shadap, Director, AIR Shillong, Director, AIR NE Training
Ms. R. Budon, PAX, AIR Shillong
Mr. Santosh Kumar, News Editor, AIR Shillong
Mr. Akela Bhai, Anchor, AIR NE Services
Ms. Krishna Das Gupta, Anchor, AIR NE Services
Mr. Manas Chaudhuri, The shillong Times Newspaper
Ms. Zuiliani Hrahsel, IEC, SACS
Mr. Vanlalrema Vantawl, ‘Zalen’ Newspaper
Mr. Somtea, Mizoram Network of Positive People
Mr. C. Lalrosanga, DDG AIR (NER 1)
Mr. Limavati, Deputy DIPR
Ms. Abino Khate, IEC, SACS
Mr. Pamreiso Shimray, Nagaland Post Newspaper
Dr. T. Murry, Inter-denominational Churches Care & Support
Mr. Jehangir Hussain, IEC, SACS
Mr. Ajit Sarma, Voluntary health Association of India
SPEAKERS SESSION :
During this session, the following speakers exposed their views and perspective from their respective organization on the current HIV/AIDS media situation in North East and its challenges:
The Speakers session was moderated by:
- Noble Thalari, Communication Adviser, UNAIDS
UN vision for the northeast and coping with denials
- Mayank Agrawal, Joint Director, IEC, National Aids Control Organisation
Combating HIV/AIDS today: a safer world tomorrow
The North East HIV/AIDS situation in the broader Indian and international context. NACO overall strategy for North East and related communication strategy: NACP III
- C. Lalrosanga, Deputy Director-General,All India Radio,Northeast(NER 1)
Radio as a critical tool for health communication in the northeast
- Ratan Singh, Chairperson, GIPA Alliance
Galvanising GIPA in HIV / AIDS policies and communication strategies
- Augustine Veliath, Communications Officer, UNICEF
Affected Children want you to
Focus on the results of the national consultation for children affected by HIV/AIDS conducted by UNICEF in May 2006, rising to the public the Children living with HIV daily issues and dreams.
- Manas Chaudhuri, Editor, Shillong Times
Need for a watchdog print media to combat HIV / AIDS in northeast India
The difficulties of media related to HIV / AIDS sector in the northeast and possible solutions for creating media linkages in the northeast.
- Rochita Taluker,Communication and Advocacy Manager, DFID PMO,
Vision of DFID HIV / AIDS programmes in northeast India
Ms. Lyndal Barry, Project Director, Mekong Project, Internews Europe
OPEN FORUM :
RELEVANT ISSUES HIGHLIGHTED
FOR IMPLEMENTATION PROCESSES IN NORTH EAST INDIA
After the speaker’s session, the Open Forum created the space for interaction and inputs form all participants on the HIV/AIDS media situation and ways to improve it in the region.
The Open Forum session was moderated by Dr. S. I. Ahmed, HIV / AIDS expert and Chairman Aids Prevention Society, Guwahati.
Issues raised concerning IEC – SACS :
Issues raised concerning ADVOCACY
- Need to define a methodology for IEC material production
- Need for production of correct messaging
- Need for greater publication level in comparison to dedicated financial support
- Need for the translation of IEC materials into local languages
- Need for HIV/AIDS glossary of terminology in each of the main local languages
- IEC officers are often not available to give information
- IEC SACS should bring out quarterly newsletter
- Manipur and Mizoram SACS raised that they involve Positive Networks and benefit from reduced rates for telecast on AIR (50%) Other SACS should made similar efforts for media outreach
- Initiative is to come from SACS
- Need for greater involvement of women organizations : included in NACP III for IEC to generate appropriate behaviour change.
- IEC is not only for mass media but also supportive interpersonal communications
- Acknowledgement by SACS that sensitization of media people and advocacy makes a difference: when advocacy meetings were organized, media picked up issues, later this made a difference
- SACS should bargain more -- giving ads to the media versus publication of a news story
- Need for greater involvement of faith based and women and children organisations in the response to HIV/AIDS (and law enforcement agencies, interfacing with the media). Their exposure to the media is little.
Issues raised concerning INFORMATION OUTREACH
Issues raised concerning MEDIA AND NACO
- There is a big gap between SACS, media and government departments
- Need for a platform for positive persons, IEC–SACS, DIPRs who together should take the initiative for discussion.
- the time has come for second generation treatment messaging
- need to speak more about the patent issue since it is a question of life and death for so many people
- issue of confusion about statistics in the media due to different data resources (even NGOs publish their own data on limited surveys)
- Need for a collective assessment and a competent and credible authority for disseminating that data (maybe it should be NACO and no other agency)
- Media should be encouraged / motivated to endorse NACO statements and statistics the Intermedia Publicity Coordination Committee (IMPCC) exists but SACS have not found their way into this important mechanism. Therefore, SACS and PLHIVs should be represented in this committee (already the case in Mizoram)
- The representation should be in true spirit not just for forms.
INPUT FORMS : STATE-WISE HIGHLIGHTS OF FEEDBACK
ON UNADDRESSED ISSUES AND UNDER-SERVED SEGMENTS
In each State, the following issues have been highlighted by the NGOs and Networks of PLHIV as unaddressed or underserved by the media :
In Arunachal Pradesh:
- Paediatric medication
SOME SPECIFIC ISSUES MENTIONED BY IEC-SACS AND DIPRS
- All except Prevention
- Treatment and Home Care
Some important points have emanated from the discussions and the input forms:
Directorates of Information & Public Relations:
IEC at SACS
- mostly concentrate on disseminating information of ministries headed by the Chief Minister
- disseminate information on HIV / AIDS whenever asked to do so by the Government or by SACS
- believe personal interaction, media lounges, press conferences, training in media intervention and NGO lobbying can ensure an adequate response to the epidemic
- generally update IEC material once a year
- in some states, particularly in denial , do not change content on the basis of feedback
- have budgetary constraints that affect quality, quantity and outreach of IEC material
- usually meet the same positive people in the course of official interaction