This study focused on ‘Role of health communication messages in creating awareness on Cholera Outbreaks in Ebonyi State’. Cholera as we all know had from time to time besieged Ebonyi State leading to the death of hundreds and thousands affected and infected. The dreaded illness has continued to increase in our society despite all efforts to put a stop to it, hence this study which looked at what radio with its enormous power can do to put a stop to the disease. The research work adopted two theoretical frameworks in carrying out the research. The theories are Social Responsibility and Agenda Setting Theories. In the research methodology, survey research method was used in data gathering. In the survey, three local government areas of Ebonyi State were randomly selected from the three senatorial zones of Ebonyi State namely: Ezza North, Ohaozara and Ohaukwu. For easy understanding, tables were used in the data presentation of the study. According to the findings of the research work, radio plays a significant role in shaping the health life pattern of its audience in general but the health policy makers do not liaise with radio health programmers during disease outbreak like cholera. Therefore, this study recommends that they should be synergy between radio health programmers and health policy makers, if the battle against cholera outbreaks in Ebonyi state must be worn.

Keywords: Radio, Cholera Outbreak, Ebonyi, Nigeria.

1.1 Background of study
It is health that is real wealth and not piece of gold or silver. (Gandhi, 1927). Sanitation is a long-standing, public health issue. When early people settled in communities and started to cultivate crops and raise animals, sanitation became a primary concern for society. Inadequate sanitation is a major cause of disease worldwide and improving sanitation is known to have a significant beneficial impact on health both in households and across communities. Good basic personal hygiene and hand washing are critical to help prevent the spread of illness and disease. Keeping hands clean helps prevent the spread of germs. Hand washing with soap is the best way to reduce the number of germs on them. Bad sanitation and poor hygiene have to coincide with people carrying the Vibrio Cholerae before cholera outbreak could occur.

Cholera is one of the most widespread and deadly diseases of the 19th century, killing an estimated tens of millions of people. It is estimated that cholera affects 3-5 million people worldwide, and causes 100,000-130,000 deaths a year as of 2010. (WHO report, 2010). This occurs mainly in the developing world. More than 100,000 people die from the disease every year, with the majority of cases in Sub-Saharan Africa. Cholera remains both epidemic and endemic in many areas of the world.

Recently, cholera outbreak engulfed Nigeria. Ebonyi State as one of the 36 states of Nigeria is not an exception to this as 20 persons lost their lives in different Local Government areas of the state. According to Ebonyi State Director of Public Health and Disease control, Chris Achi, “Some of the Local Government Areas affected are: Abakaliki, Izzi, Ebonyi, Ohaukwu, Ishielu, Ezza North and Ohaozara”. It is my desire to ascertain the role of health communication messages in curbing cholera outbreaks in Ebonyi State that necessitated this research work.

Cholera is a natural disease of epidemic proportion. It is caused by a comma-shaped rod like, motile, Gram negative bacterium called Vibrio cholera, with the characteristics of acute water diarrhoea, vomiting, muscle cramps and severe dehydration (Kaper, 1995). It is an ancient disease reported globally and associated with high mortality and morbidity rate. “This live threatening infection has an estimated annual burden of 204 million cases in endemic areas” (Ali, 2012:90). “The world has experienced seven major pandemics of this disease since the early 19th century” (Faruque, 1998:102). “The first six were caused by toxigenic strains of classical (CL) biotype, serogroup 01, which was reported to have originated from India, while the current 7th is caused by V. cholera 01 of the EI tor biotype” (Zhang, 2014:58).

According to World Health Organisation Report (2012:77), “In Africa, majority of cases between early 1990 and 2013 occurred in Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, Somalia, Tanzania and South Africa. In Nigeria, the first recorded case of Cholera was in a village near Lagos, on 26th December 1970 with 22,931 cases and 2,945 deaths”.

The relevance of good health to man, has been emphasised by Anibueze (2008). According to him, “Look to your health, and if you have it, praise God, and value it next to good conscience, for health is the second blessing that we mortals are capable of; a blessing that money cannot buy”. It is the premium value placed on health as a precious gift that society cannot afford to neglect issues related to it. The situation explains why health is treated with utmost care by countries and government all over the world.

Biological and cultural factors are combined to drive the principles of achieving optimal health. In countries where Cholera is endemic, there are myths and divergent perceptions on the real cause(s) of the disease. Consequently, there are variations in approach towards the control and containment of the epidemic in Africa, while some people believe that cholera is as a result of “miasma” (bad air) as postulated in the 19th century, or “anger of the gods”, others are of the opinion that it is due to the presence of witchcraft and black magic. (Erinosho 2001). These wrong perceptions have their consequences on disease management. Like in other countries of the world, recurrent episodes of cholera in Nigeria in general and Ebonyi in particular could be stopped if the predisposing factors and aetiology are well understood. This has not been the case because at each outbreak, effort at ameliorating and controlling the epidemic are reactive, unfortunately evidence of sustainable practices is lacking.

The role of mass media in education, information and enlightenment of the people on health related issues like HIV/AIDS, Cancer, Hypertension, Cholera among others has been identified by communication scholars and health policy makers. One the means of doing this by the mass media, is through the dissemination of health programmes on radio. In Ebonyi State, there have been a lot of health programmes ongoing on radio stations (Ebonyi State Broadcasting Corporation, (EBBC) or Radio Nigeria Unity Fm, Abakaliki). Inspite of public enlightenment programmes, there are still much number of Cholera cases in the state. This frequent and regular cases of cholera outbreak in the state drew the attention of the researcher of this work to determine the role radio plays in curbing disease outbreak(s) and the role radio is expected to play in curbing cholera outbreaks among residents of Ebonyi State.

1.2 Statement of Problem
There is no do doubt that millions of people globally perish annually due to cholera outbreak. (WHO Report, 2010). Cholera has been identified as one of the greatest enemies of humanity across the world for its devastating effects, socially, economically and politically, ranging from economic hardship to lose of lives. In Ebonyi State, the situation is not different. Cholera has become a major health issue that kills people regularly in the State. Despite different palliative measures taken individually and collectively from both local, state and national levels, the disease still ravage our society unabated. Such palliative measures which were misdirected includes; the organisation of seminars, administration of drugs only to mention but few. The above measures failed due to the reach, irregular nature and corrupt tendencies of personnel used.

According to Nwokocha (1999), radio has grass root appeal. Its messages can be translated into local languages and dialects. More so, radio receivers are also relatively cheap and affordable even in rural areas. The portability of radio sets and the fact that they can be powered by ordinary batteries (apart from electricity) brings to the fore, radio’s added advantage over other mass media”.

Despite the above advantages of radio in mobilizing and enlightening the people on the dangers, preventive strategies and treatment of cholera, Cholera has continued to kill many people in Ebonyi State of Nigeria. This is not just unconnected to inadequate radio health programmes on cholera but also on the time schedule for such health programmes. More to that, language of such health programmes are in most times inappropriate for the category of audience such programmes intends to reach.

1.3 Objectives of the Study
On a general note, the research has the objective to examine effectiveness of radio in creating awareness on cholera outbreak in Ebonyi State. Be that as it may, the following are the specific objectives of this research study;

i. To find out whether radio station in Ebonyi state air programme on health issues on Cholera

ii. To ascertain whether the people in Ebonyi understand the content of health programmes of radio stations in Ebonyi State.

iii. To know whether the time schedule for health programmes especially on Cholera in Ebonyi State radio stations is appropriate for it.

iv. To determine the extent health programmes of radio stations in Ebonyi State influence people’s way of living, health wise.

v. To find out if there is a synergy between radio health programmers and health policy makers in curbing cholera in Ebonyi State?

1.4 Research Questions
To find out the role of health communication messages in curbing cholera outbreak in Ebonyi State, the researcher formulated the following research questions;

RQ1: Do radio stations in Ebony State air health programmes on issues of Cholera?

RQ2: Do people understand the content of the radio programmes?

RQ3: Is the time schedule for health programmes especially on Cholera by radio stations in Ebonyi State best appropriate for it?

RQ4: To what extent do health programmes on radio influence people’s way of living in Ebonyi?

RQ5: Is there a synergy in radio programme drafting and health policy makers in curbing cholera in Ebonyi State?

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Size: 45 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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