Neglected tropical diseases rarely make the headlines

May 14, 2008

A new study of leading news organizations has found that neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) rarely make headlines, despite the huge amount of illness, suffering, and poverty that they cause. The study is published May 14th in the open-access journal PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Mangai Balasegaram (Bordeaux University, France) and colleagues searched the archives of 11 leading international, English-language media, from 1 January 2003 to 1 June 2007, to assess news coverage of NTDs.

The news media included 6 newspapers (The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, The Financial Times), BBC Online, CNN.com, the international news wire Agence France Presse (AFP), and two news magazines (Time and The Economist). The researchers also interviewed leading health journalists at these organizations to gain insight into the findings and investigate factors influencing reporting.

During the 53-month study period, they found only 113 articles on NTDs. In comparison, there were over 1000 articles that mentioned HIV/AIDS in the AFP database alone during this same study period. There was wide disparity in coverage between the various media: the BBC had the highest coverage (20 articles) followed by the Financial Times and AFP, and CNN had the least coverage (only 1 article during this study period). Coverage of global health issues was particularly poor in the American media.

Journalists who were interviewed for the study generally agreed that the NTDs had not been adequately covered, but said a lack of real news development and the need to cater to domestic audiences were major obstacles for NTD reporting. All journalists said health agencies, particularly the World Health Organization and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, were not communicating adequately about the burden of NTDs.

Balasegaram and colleagues conclude that "public health agencies need to raise priority for NTD advocacy."

Source: Public Library of Science

Explore further: UN Ebola head warns against complacency as fight enters last lap

Related Stories

Hunger for meat pushing food security to the edge

Mar 06, 2015

Promoting more sustainable plant-based foods and reducing demand for meat and dairy products will be essential to feed billions of people and avoid serious and ongoing global food security impacts, warn experts ...

Good news and bad news for coral reefs

Feb 10, 2015

Some good news for coral reefs: In 2014, President Obama expanded the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in the central Pacific from about 87,000 square miles to 308,000 square miles. The Monument ...

Giant US health-data breach could lead to China

Feb 05, 2015

Data on as many as 80 million customers at US health insurance giant Anthem was stolen by hackers, officials confirmed Thursday, in a cyberattack investigators have reportedly linked to China.

Got charisma? Look for it in your voice

Jan 22, 2015

Considering a run for political office? How you sound may be just as important as what you say in terms of projecting yourself as a dynamic leader.

Recommended for you

Amid bird flu outbreak, turkey farmers increase security

6 hours ago

Poultry producers in the nation's top turkey state are taking extra steps to protect their flocks after a devastating strain of bird flu was confirmed at two Minnesota farms in as many days last week, a disease that had already ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.