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: High-dose flu vaccine appears better for frail older adults in long-term care

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

What exactly is Google's 'cancer nanodetector'?

Nov 11, 2014

Last week, US tech giants Google made a splash in the media, announcing plans to develop new 'disease-detecting magnetic nanoparticles'. This was almost universally welcomed – after all, trying to detect ...

Q&A: Science journalism and public engagement

Sep 23, 2014

Whether the public is reading about the Ebola outbreak in Africa or watching YouTube videos on the benefits of the latest diet, it's clear that reporting on science and technology profoundly shapes modern ...

Poverty rate drops for the first time since 2006

Sep 16, 2014

The poverty rate in the United States has dropped for the first time since 2006, bringing a bit of encouraging news about the nation's economy as President Barack Obama and Congress gear up for the November elections.

Recommended for you

New hope for rare disease drug development

8 hours ago

Using combinations of well-known approved drugs has for the first time been shown to be potentially safe in treating a rare disease, according to the results of a clinical trial published in the open access Orphanet Journal of ...

Three weeks since last Ebola case in Mali: WHO

11 hours ago

Mali has not had a case of Ebola for three weeks, the World Health Organization said Wednesday, completing one of the two incubation periods the country needs to be declared free of the virus.

Migraine may double risk for facial paralysis

12 hours ago

Migraine headache may double the risk of a nervous system condition that causes facial paralysis, called Bell's palsy, according to a new study published in the December 17, 2014, online issue of Neurology, the medical journa ...

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.