In many countries, the media has a potentially key role to play in advancing the health agenda. Journalists can shine a light on critical, but often underreported stories by connecting the dots for the public, civil society organizations, and decision-makers so they can fully understand health priorities and the funding and governance issues behind them.
The World Health Organization estimates that millions of people face “catastrophic expenditure” each year due to the high costs of health care. Behind these sobering statistics lie a wealth of news and feature stories waiting for the media to investigate and share with policymakers as well as civil society groups who can advocate for changes to health budgets and policies.
But writing health finance and governance stories can be challenging. Health finance is riddled with complex language, technical economic terms, and numbers – not necessarily a journalist’s comfort zone. The right sources for these stories can be difficult to identify and unwilling to talk. Data may be difficult to locate or to understand. And while corruption makes for splashy headlines, the broader systemic challenges of health governance are not widely understood – and yet they are important.
The Health Finance and Governance Briefing Kit is designed to help journalists and their editors uncover and tell these important health stories. It was developed by the HFG Project in collaboration with Internews Kenya’s Health Media Project. A team of 15 Kenyans journalists field-tested the briefing kit during a week-long workshop held in Nairobi.
“Before this workshop, I thought of health finance stories as always being sensational – only about money and certain politicians and big headlines. But now I understand that they are much deeper than that. They touch all Kenyans,” said Jimmy Makhulo, a journalist with Internews.
The briefing kit is an easy-to-use resource not only for the media, but also for civil society groups and health stakeholders who would like to engage in advocacy for health priorities in their communities and countries. It includes:
- Examples of health finance and governance stories;
- Essential health finance and governance resources and background materials;
- Strategies for identifying and accessing key sources for health finance and governance issues;
- A glossary of essential key health finance and health governance terms and concepts with hyperlinks to primary sources;
- Tips for writing about health finance and governance topics, such as Universal Health Coverage (UHC); and
- Links to media outlets for health finance and governance news.
During the workshop, Ms. Regina Ombam, Head of Strategy for Kenya’s National AIDS Control Council, spoke about the role of the media in strengthening health governance. “The best way we can govern our health is when we communicate about it. If I have information and don’t give it out in the best way possible, then that is it what will be consumed. If I give it in an effective, understandable manner, then whoever reports on it will report on it the same way. We should highlight the gaps, explain what they mean, and not just assume that journalists know what’s important or not,” she said.Download the Briefing Kit