Journalists in Ghana must join the fight to expose the lies of the Alcohol Industry – MATCOH Chair

“Morning show hosts, hosts of TV and Radio programmes at various times must try and dedicate few minutes of their space to educate the public about the negative effects of alcohol consumption”.

Journalists in Ghana have been urged to expose the lapses in the regulatory mechanisms needed to control alcohol consumption in the country. They should also assist the advocacy efforts against other jurisdictions in order to make Ghana safe.

Chairman of the Media Alliance in Tobacco Control and Health, Jeorge Wilson Kingson explained that, the media have a critical role to play by committing few minutes of their airwaves to educating the public on the negative effects of alcohol consumption.

“Morning show hosts, hosts of TV and Radio programmes at various times must try and dedicate few minutes of their space to educate the public about the negative effects of alcohol consumption”.

Kingson made these remarks at a day’s capacity building workshop for journalists on the theme “The Role of the Media in Advancing Public Health through Alcohol Control” held in Accra.

According to him, the media needs to let the policy makers know that alcohol is killing people and so they must act now to regulate its consumption in the country.

“We all know that Advertisement of alcoholic beverages is difficult to ignore because the offers are mostly too juicy to overlook since most media houses have financial obligations to meet,” he revealed.

He was quick to add however, that “But we in the media have a mission to attempt to use media advocacy to increase public awareness and support for public health policies on alcohol”.

He believes that, the media through its Agenda Setting, or Gate-Keeping roles have a very significant role to play in keeping society informed and educated about a whole range of issues in a quest to decrease the impact of alcohol consumption on the individual, family and society.

On his part, Labram Musah of the Ghana NCD Alliance pointed out that, most often, the alcohol industry do interfere in the work of media houses, which is why the media is often not able to play it’s watch-dog roles effectively over them.

He said the interference is a threat in advancing and achieving public health, explaining that, most of these industries have a lot of money and can easily influence policy makers and the media.

He emphasized that, some of these industries use economic power to lobby government officials and marketing machinery as well as manipulate the media.

“They sometime discredit scientific research, influence government officials in order to propagate the state and distribution of its deadly alcoholic product,” he acknowledged.

Musah also said the industry interferences have some common understanding of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by giving back to the society and community, assisting the needy and vulnerable.

He said they also seek acceptance of the public, consumers, media and regulators and also marketing tactics through CSR.

He used the workshop to urge the Ministry of trade and the government to exclude the alcohol industry from CSR policies because their involvement hinders global and national development.

Christopher Agbega – a member of the NCD Alliance who spoke on the importance of the lived experience voices in Advancing Public Health said most Ghanaians are ignorant on the health implications of alcohol consumption.

He admitted that, the youth are mostly exposed to alcohol through Advertisement on the media and mostly, parent or elders in the communities do send them to go and buy the alcohol for their consumption.

Meanwhile, the Communications Officer of the Ghana NCD Alliance, Ophelia Allotey, has also urged the media to use its gate-keeping and watch dog roles to educate the society on the harmful effects of alcohol.

Source: By Jamila Wahab ||


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