The poor response to the ChikV epidemic and overall health care crisis being experienced in Jamaica has not only exposed the incompetence of our government health officials but our complicit and enabling media.
When opposition spokesman for health Dr. Ken Baugh warned of the potential of the disease reaching crisis proportions and questioned the numbers being reported, he was vilified by the MOH, via the media, and called an alarmist who was trying to incite panic for political gain.
Now that it has become clear that the numbers were underreported, the media were only too willing to publish the obfuscating press release by the minister saying we should move on past the “numbers” and his shameful blaming of private doctors.
The conversation became so distorted that some even questioned the validity of Juliet Cuthbert and Andrew Holness’ claim of having the disease. This made one consider the possibility of ChikV being a figment of the JLP’s imagination. When Delano Seiveright highlighted the widespread incidence of ChikV in Eastern St. Thomas, The Jamaica Observer thought themselves obliged to tell him to “cool it.”Now, they are all trying to hide their nervous blushes since it came to light that a significant number of students and staff at St Thomas Tech high school have been absent due to ChikV.
Ironically, this is the constituency of the Minister of Health himself. This begs the obvious question, when was the last time Mr. Ferguson visited his constituency? We need media to report the news and disseminate information that in turn will equip us with useful knowledge to function. The public relies on media to sift through propaganda and deliver objective analysis of complex situations, thereby allowing for facts to be established. Lately, Jamaicans have been treated to a type of lazy, uninspired journalism that merely omit the letterhead on government press releases before passing them off as editorials.
It’s as if research is only done on the JIS website. Indeed, some journalists have become so complacent that they are hard pressed to hide their struggle in finding any useful or important material to write about. All journalists and by extension media houses have biases. This is an established fact that is either tacitly or otherwise declared. This only becomes dangerous when there seems to be collusion in hiding important information from the public.
Jamaica has it’s fair share of problems. We are limping financially, barely recovering from a long drought and now in the throes of a disease that has been poorly managed by our Health officials. The last thing we need is a cheerleading media, who instead of helping to educate the public on the symptoms and prevention of this virus, choose to berate the people pointing to the smoke that is rapidly becoming a fire. Our sleeping media that was once watchful and vigilant needs to wake up quickly, hopefully before more abuses are visited on the very citizens that they depend on for their business.
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