Get a Grip British and International Media

April 28, 2009

Looking at British newspaper headlines courtesy of the Sky News website, you’d think that the world is in the throes of a Swine Flu epidemic as opposed to a pandemic. CNN International has become an All Swine Flu, All the Time channel judging by my periodic viewing here in Nairobi. Al Jazeera English (where in full disclosure I should say that I’ve consulted for recently) is also giving swine flu considerable coverage but at least is placing the story in a global perspective. It devoted its Inside Story, which you can see above, to the issue of whether the media are hyping the coverage. 150 deaths in Mexico is an alarming story. No doubt about that. But seen from here in Nairobi, there is so far a detachment that is understandable given the yearly malaria death toll. There were nearly 900,000 deaths a year worldwide caused by malaria according to the most recent figues from Global Health Reporting. And 8 of 10 of those were African children. So where’s the Breaking News Coverage? Where’s the constant reminder of what needs to be done? In the Nairobi press a small news item today about the Kenyan government preparing to distribute 11 million mosquito treated bed nets. The report notes that 25 million Kenyans are at risk of being attacked by malaria.