Medical Journalism refers to the act of communicating health data and information to the general public using medical articles or news.
More than half of all Nigerians have trouble understanding and using health information. This is troubling because low health literacy increases patients’ risk of poor health outcomes during hospitalization and emergencies.
Health information should be understandable to everyone. Unlike academic research, each medical journalism dissemination attempt should be tailored to the target audience’s preferences in terms of style, tone, education level, time, format, and technique.
In Nigeria, various health organizations, such as Nigeria Health Watch, the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), and the National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRID), are bridging the gap between research dissemination and medical journalism. They present research findings and recommendations in formats that policymakers and non-scientist stakeholders can understand.
Solutions journalism, popularly known as Soljo, reports on solutions to common health issues, that are working in specific settings and may work in others. These stories are anchored on credible evidence, and explains how and why responses are working. In taking a critical and open-minded approach, including reporting on limitations, Soljo promotes replication and adaptation of solutions in novel settings. The storytelling manner and insertion of solution journalists’ own insights broadens the audience of Soljo to the general public.
The four pillars of Soljo include response, insight, evidence, and limitation. In this way, so many solutions can be replicated by following the stories and insights drawn by solutions journalists. Soljo can help to provide individuals, community organizers, and policymakers with a thorough understanding of a social issue, so that they can successfully address it.
It is important that all emerging health journalists understand and practice the four pillars through coursework and independent review of expert Soljo works. Health communication and advocacy organizations, such as the Nigeria Health Watch, specialize in presenting solution stories to increase the spread of solution innovation.
Soljo focuses on the solution to the issue in great detail. The cause of the problem can be addressed, but the response must be indicated. Best practices include:
You can join Solution Journalism Network, a platform that trains journalists to cover the entire story of what is wrong and how to fix it. They bring together journalists to learn, discuss, and collaborate, thus allowing solutions to spread more quickly.
In Nigeria, the implementation of this initiative is handled by the Nigeria Health Watch. You can follow Nigeria Health watch for Solutions stories.
1. Ifeanyi Nsofor: Without Health, we have nothing (TedxOguiRoad, 2018). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u4r_0TLTBQw