Time journalist (and newly minted Nieman fellow in global health) Christine Gorman recently gave a talk at the Global Health Council’s annual meeting. Christine discussed topics that get a lot of press–such as HIV/AIDS–and others that occasionally bubble up to the surface, such as malaria and non-infectious global health issues like female genital mutilation. However, she also noted stories that are rare or missing in mainstream health journalism–more on those after the jump.
First, she notes a dearth of stories that “cut across lines, across diseases, across silos.” Much like the increased push for interdisciplinary research scientists face, there’s also a need to tell stories that cut across these lines. It’s not easy, but she links several successful stories that manage to successfully bring together diverse threads. But there are still gaps:
Here are my top three:
1. The foundational roles that clean drinking water and basic sewage treatment play in promoting health.
2. The growing threat of all the drug-resistant microbes combined–staph, strep, tuberculosis–and our own role in making matters worse.
3. The preference for pills over people–doctors, nurse, health community workers–when it comes to funding basic healthcare infrastructure.
I’ve mentioned the first one many times here, and have another post coming up tomorrow. I bring up the numbers also in a global health lecture I’ve given several times to medical students–it’s amazing how many of them have no clue the extent of the water crisis around the world. It’s interesting she brought up #3, since there was just a story on that (mentioned here) a few days before her talk. Related to that is another angle she asks about:
Any real critical analysis of the Gates Foundation’s effect–both positive and negative–on global health efforts. It has certainly grabbed a lot of people’s attention. And done a lot of good. But does it have too much power? Is it scaring off other donors? Shoving aside effective, more home-grown or low-tech efforts?
She brings up several other angles as well–what journalists (and “fake” journalists like myself, and potentially many of you readers) can do to get our messages out in the age of Web 2.0 and the changing face of health journalism itself–an interesting bit of insight from someone who’s been covering these topics for 20+ years.