Health communication is a key strategy to inform the public about health concerns and to maintain important health issues on the public agenda. The use of the mass and multimedia and other technological innovations to disseminate useful health information to the public, increases awareness of specific aspects of individual and collective health as well as importance of health in development.
Reference: adapted from Communication, Education and Participation: A Framework and Guide to Action. WHO (AMRO/PAHO), Washington, 1996
Health communication is directed towards improving the health status of individuals and populations. Much of modern culture is transmitted by the mass and multimedia which has both positive and negative implications for health. Research shows that theory-driven mediated health promotion programming can put health on the public agenda, reinforce health messages, stimulate people to seek further information, and in some instances, bring about sustained healthy lifestyles.
Health communication encompasses several areas including edutainment or enter-education, health journalism, interpersonal communication, media advocacy, organizational communication, risk communication, social communication and social marketing. It can take many forms from mass and multimedia communications to traditional and culture-specific communication such as storytelling, puppet shows and songs. It may take the form of discreet health messages or be incorporated into existing media for communication such as soap operas.
Advances in communication media, especially in the multimedia and new information technology continue to improve access to health information. In this respect, health communication becomes an increasingly important element to achieving greater empowerment of individuals and communities.