Free Media as the Social Determinants of Health: The case of Oromia Regional State in Ethiopia
By Begna Fufa Dugassa, Ph.D
Toronto Public Health, Toronto, Canada
Background: For over a hundred thirty years, consecutive Ethiopian regimes have denied the Oromo people the right to develop their own free media. In this paper I explore how this denial has affected the development of public health conditions in Oromia.
Methods: Using the “upstream” public health metaphor as the framework of thinking, in this paper I explore how the denial of free media has hindered the development of better public health conditions.
Findings: Although media and public health are distinct social organizations, many of their functions overlap, with the former significantly supporting the development of the latter. Media informs, educates, entertains, molds opinion, advocates, provides a framework of thinking, connects people and ideas, and records events. The foundation of public health rests on the study of risks to population health and identifying health promotion as well as disease prevention (primary, secondary and tertiary) tools. Media facilitates knowledge construction and its dissemination. It supports the efforts societies make in establishing and maintaining the social conditions that will ensure the best public health outcomes possible.
Conclusions: Since media facilitates knowledge construction and knowledge dissemination, it can help produce knowledgeable and critical citizens who are equipped with problem-solving skills. Denying the Oromo people the right to develop their own free media is hindering them from having people with skills who are critically needed in transforming their society and developing better public health conditions.
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