A comparative analysis of Health Information Needs among youth and Health Communication Programs on television in Nairobi
Tong'i, Wycliffe M
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It is a painful irony that in parts of some developing countries, it is not uncommon for people to fall sick and die of diseases that can be easily prevented and treated. A simple solution of sugar, salt and water could save the lives of thousands of children who die of diarrhoea diseases every year. Malaria kills hundreds of thousands of children who could have been protected by sleeping under insecticide-treated bed nets or cured by the use of effective drugs. Lacking access to antiretroviral drugs, thousands of HI V-infected persons die prematurely (Adetokunbo, 2004). These are just a few examples that illustrate the gap between existing remedies and the level of awareness. This study sought to establish the health information needs among youth in Nairobi and the level of gratification of these needs by television as a medium of health communication. The study also specifically aimed to determine the sources of health information among the youth in Nairobi, to identify health messages that the youth in Nairobi seek for, to determine the youth's level of satisfaction from television health programs and to compare health information needs among the youth in Nairobi to health communication programs aired on television in the months of March and July 2011. The study used both qualitative and quantitative methods and used observation, recordings and 119 structured and unstructured questionnaires were administered to collect data from youth in Nairobi. The study found out that more than half of the youth (56.6%) get their general information from the mass media rather than interpersonal information sources with most preferring television. The study established that the youths in Nairobi were mostly interested in topics on nutrition (24.4% of the respondents) followed by topics on cancer then sexually transmitted infection topics. Generally a majority of the youth said their needs for health information were gratified but their level of participation was very low at 21 %. The study further established that most youth were generally satisfied with the health communication programs that were aired during the months of March and July but also noted that the health programs on television were very few and sparsely broadcast. The study recommended the duration and frequency of health communication programs be increased. Also recommended was the improvement of quality, language, research, more audience involvement and programs should be youth friendly. This could play an important role in ensuring that illnesses caused by lack of information are averted and resources that would be used are channeled to other areas for further development.