Wednesday, July 29, 2009

AH1N1 influenza - communications failure

SHOOT: Whenever I hear that there is a conspiracy theory in the media to cover something up, I tend to believe it is often the opposite. It is not that the media think it is so important that it should be covered up, but the opposite - too unimportant to air. ADD.
A crisis is exactly the time organisations need to be seen to be communicating clear and succinct messages - not ducking and diving from the reality of the situation as so many of them often do.
Let's take the AH1N1 influenza - or swine flu - as it's commonly known in the media. In the weeks since the first case was reported in June 2009, the Department of Health has been accused by members of the public of not communicating transparently.
In fact, about two months ago, I was on a domestic flight, when I overheard a passenger telling the woman seated next to him that he believed the swine flu epidemic was another “cover up” by government, and that things were a lot worse than the Department of Health and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) led the South African public to believe.
His opinion was that the AH1N1 influenza could potentially be a national panic situation, but that the route the government had chosen to follow to date was to keep the public “in the dark.”
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