By Muna Al-Fuzai
I think the worst part about the coronavirus is not only the absence of an appropriate vaccination or affected states, but the emergence of an important subject – health awareness among people. This topic may not constitute a problem or importance for governments in the West. But it is certainly an important issue for Arab countries because it is an important means to change wrong habits and negative thoughts among individuals in the society to ensure that such emergency matters are addressed in a way that does not cause panic and spread rumors.
In the past, the media, such as newspapers and television, had a fundamental role in educating people, but today, with the introduction of technology, smartphones and social media as part of our lives, it has fallen on the responsible authorities in the state to deal with all these tools to reach the goal, which is to support a healthy media for awareness among members of the society. So, using the media for health education is important for achieving comprehensive development.
The low health awareness in the community has repercussions related to the security, social and economic situation, as prices of goods can rise. Therefore, finding a cure for the virus does not mean forgetting the importance of seeking to upgrade the level of health awareness among people through media campaigns throughout the year for everything that touches and concerns people’s health.
For example, several advertisements for facemasks supposed to be worn to protect from the coronavirus in many colors including white, black and blue have spread in many stores, and people are running around to buy these masks. But some of them are only for dust and have nothing to do with protection from the coronavirus. Also, many people are keen to wear masks without using hand sanitizers or gloves!
There have been several calls for people to wash hands regularly, and for those who are feeling ill to stay at home. Yet people are still thinking that putting a mask is enough. I think that health media in the Arab region is neglected, which makes it easier for shops to promote many of their goods without making sure of their authenticity.
It is time to change incorrect behaviors to create a suitable environment capable of spreading integrated health awareness, and communicating with all means of media to confront health issues to educate the community and disseminate knowledge to all citizens and expatriates.
I think the absence of health awareness in society is one of the most important reasons that lead to an increase in diseases. I believe that governments must compel companies working in the health service to set an allocated budget to support health awareness to improve the lives of society members. The media today can play a pivotal role in directing health policies, because health awareness campaigns will contribute to avoiding the spread of many diseases in the region.