The role of the media in highlighting and publicizing the problem of Keratoconus so that patients may get help.
Eboi, Anne A
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The study examined the role of the media in highlighting the problem of Keratoconus and other corneal diseases in Kenya. The purpose of this study was to explore the role played by the media in highlighting and informing the public on the problem of Keratoconus. The research was of the view that the media, as a change agent, has the capacity to force attention on this problem. Keratoconus and other corneal diseases cause unnecessary blindness and this should not be. This study would serve as a guide and source of information to both media and medical personnel in bringing about awareness to the wider public in Kenya. The study was guided by these objectives: To find out what percentage of Kenyans is aware of Keratoconus, to determine the number of patients who have been operated on in the 2 major eye hospitals in Kenya in the last 3 years(June 2007-June 2010) as a result of Keratoconus, to determine the extent of media coverage of Keratoconus in the last 2 and a halfyears(January 2008-June 2010) and to analyze the extent to which the media (both print and electronic) could be used to help disseminate information on Keratoconus. The study used both descriptive survey and content analysis methods. The researcher's tools for data collection were the questionnaires which contained both open-ended and closed-ended questions. Extensive research was done by use of books and the internet. The questionnaires were administered to a purposive sample of 100 students and lecturers drawn from the University of Nairobi. Questionnaires were administered to a sample of 25 journalists from across the media houses in Kenya, using snowballing. The quantitative information was summarized into frequencies and percentages, while the narrative and interpretative reports and citations were written down to depict the situation as it is on the ground. The fitudy also used a content analysis of the coverage of Keratoconus by the Daily Nation and the East African Standard for a 2 and a half year period (January,2008- June, 2010). The data was coded and interpreted. The study determined that 77.06 %(109) of respondents, including the media are unaware of Keratoconus while 84.40%(109) did not know that en eye bank exists in Kenya 59.60%(109) would donate their corneas if called upon to do so. The research determined the extent of media coverage of Keratoconus in the last two and a half years(January,2008-June 2010). The Nation newspaper only had 0.54%(9)coverage of Keratoconus while the Standard had 0.43%(9) in the entire 2 12 year period.(January 2008-June 2010). This was totally inadequate and incapable of effecting any meaningful change in behaviour. The research however established that the quality of coverage was excellent. It was also found out that only about 200 people had undergone corneal graft at both Kikuyu and Lions hospitals while a total of approximately 1500 patients were on the waiting list for corneal graft. The research has given recommendations to the media, concerned hospitals and the government to help alleviate suffering by Keratoconus sufferers. It recommended a closer working relationship between the media and the concerned hospitals. The media should aggressively address this issue using profiles, talk shows, documentaries, films. Social networking sites are also very effective in transmitting information. For the government, the study recommended a direct government intervention such as countrywide campaigns, use of the government website to create awareness, liaising with mobile service providers to send awareness text messages to the public and amending the Tissue Act to make it more effective. For Lions Sight First Hospital, the study recommended that it comes up with an effective marketing strategy to bring about awareness.