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Swine Flu (H1N1) can Become a Major Political Crisis Instead of a Health Crisis by October 2009, Amir Jahangir

World Health Organization (WHO) holds The International Communication Conference on Disease Outbreak in Cairo, Egypt. Amir Jahangir, Chief Executive Officer of SAMAA TV, delivered a talk on "The Reaction of Media to Diseases Outbreak" at the International Communication Conference on Disease Outbreak at the World Health Organization's Mediterranean Regional Office in Cairo, Egypt.

Cairo, Egypt (PRWEB) August 10, 2009 -- The World Health Organization (WHO) held "The International Communication Conference on Disease Outbreak. H1N1 (Swine Flu) virus was the focus of the conference that was held in Cairo, Egypt last week from 28-30 July 2009. Amir Jahangir, Chief Executive Officer of SAMAA TV, delivered a talk on "The Reaction of Media to Diseases Outbreak" at the International Communication Conference on Disease Outbreak at the World Health Organization's Mediterranean Regional Office in Cairo, Egypt.

H1N1 has swept around the world in weeks, infecting millions and killing more than 800 by official counts. While only a "moderate" pandemic by World Health Organization standards, it could worsen as temperatures cool in the Northern Hemisphere, making conditions better for viruses. H1N1 (also referred as "swine flu") is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. This new virus was first detected in people in the United States in April 2009.

The crises communication workshop revolved around H1N1 virus on how the world should react to the outbreak of the deadly flu that has already claimed so many lives around the world. This virus is spreading from person-to-person worldwide, probably in much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread. This virus is a global threat.

According to FluNet reporting from the Global Influenza Surveillance Network (GISN), 3548 detections of the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus were reported from 13 countries in a recent survey. The majority of detections were reported by China, Hong Kong followed by Australia and Italy Among the 13 countries, on average, the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus accounted for 71% of all influenza virus detections (66% in northern hemisphere and 89% in southern hemisphere). The highest rate of detection of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 influenza virus was reported by Greece.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Amir Jahangir said, "disease outbreaks are eminently newsworthy. The public has a right to be informed and the media is the key partner in the communication triangle with health officials." And that the role of the media is pivotal, particularly at the start of an outbreak, to create a well informed public so that they are equipped to protect themselves from the outbreaks and epidemics."

Mr. Jahangir was addressing a gathering of more then 40 health communications experts, representing the countries in the region of Asia, Middle East and Africa, along with professionals from repesctive governments and World Health Organizations' representatives.

SAMAA TV played a leading role in carrying out awareness campaigns reinforcing the importance of the Polio Eradication Program and encouraging parents and families to call the Polio Control Cell in case of any complaints, requirement of information related to vaccinations or lack of teams visiting their area.

The three countries in Asia that still have polio are on target to end the disease this year. Last year, polio cases in Afghanistan, India and Pakistan were slashed by 45%. Similar momentum and support from the media this year should put an end to the transmission of polio in this particularly populated region of the world, which has proven a challenge to global eradication efforts.

SAMAA TV, in joint collaboration with, UNICEF Pakistan and the Ministry of Health was the first media channel in Pakistan to establish the Polio Control Cell aimed at acting as an information bridge between the citizens and the polio control authorities. The Cell, first of its kind provided instant information on the initiative to callers in the length and breadth of the country besides performing the vital task of identifying missed areas and children. Since its establishment in October 2008, more than 50,000 children have been ensured the vaccination against the polio virus, who otherwise would have been included as the missed targets during the campaigns. The Polio Control Cell has also received high acknowledgement at the international forums, where Mr. Bill Gates, Co-chair and Trustee of the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and the Director General World Health Organization, Dr. M. Chan has applauded the SAMAA model as "The Pakistan Model" and called it a benchmark to be replicated in other epidemic developing countries. The model has also been commended at the Stanford University as one of the prime Innovation Journalism case studies at the 6th Innovation Journalism Conference held in May 2009.

Chief Executive Officer of SAMAA TV, Mr. Amir Jahangir also said "Media, particularly radio and television stations, play a critical role in reaching downtrodden rural population. The media may also exert pressure on those in charge to act rapidly and efficiently."

He further added "A key to good communication is the early release of information for the masses; such communication initiates a process of trust which is maintained by absolute transparency. In this age of instant global communication, it is impossible to hide information."

In April 2009, the VINNOVA-Stanford Research Center of Innovation Journalism honored Mr. Amir Jahangir as the Program Advisor to the Research Center on Global Media Development and Journalism. Mr. Jahangir has also played a crucial role in improving health reporting from Pakistan. He also received the special award for Innovations in Health Journalism from the Ministry of Health and UNICEF for creating the concept of the Polio Control Cell. Mr. Jahangir is known for being a media person carrying out health related innovations in media and communications in Pakistan; on various platforms; including The World Bank Development Indicators, United Nation Development Indicators, and the Global Competitiveness Indicators of the World Economic Forum based out of Davos. A special award was presented for his contribution and efforts towards the eradication of polio across Pakistan earlier in July 2009.

Mr. Amir Jahangir emphasized the importance of addressing the issue of H1N1 virus, which the World Health Organization (WHO) expects to be a major outbreak in October this year, as it can develop into a major political crisis from a global health crisis.

He further added that "the countries not into swine farming are also at a high threat as the international travelers could be the carrier for the disease. The recent case of the swine flu deaths in the Gulf States proves this. The disease is transmitted from person to person when germs enter the nose and/or throat. Coughs and sneezes release germs into the air where they can be breathed in by others.

In the end Mr. Jahangir said, "The media need to be recognized as critical partners in outbreak response and management."

SAMAA TV ensures the training and understanding of its reporters on all issues. SAMAA TV provides the public with prompt and correct information on all issues including health or a disease outbreak.

SAMAA TV is one of Pakistan's leading private satellite television channels, which takes pride in its fair, factual and independent news coverage through its on-the-hour bulletins, breaking stories, incisive political analysis and current affairs programs. The channel has also made a niche for itself through its programs on women and youth issues besides infotainment and sports. SAMAA TV, launched in December 2007 has network of district correspondents and five (5) bureaus across Pakistan along with international stringers in the Middle East, Europe and North America.


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