Social Media and Healthy Policies in Africa

In Health Policies on September 28, 2012 at 11:13 am

As I watched Social Good Summit 2012 recently held by Mashable, so many questions came to my mind. One of them was: “Is social media being used to change or encourage the development of health or healthy policies in Africa”? Social media has the capacity to galvanize communities, foster discussion and get the attention of policy makers to create healthy policies like smoke-free laws-which are so few in the continent; policies that encourage breastfeeding, and ensure good roads and development within African nations. We have all seen the impact of social media all over the world from the Arab spring to Ushadidi. Also, most social media platforms are quite inexpensive and can be used easily to engage subscribers. With mobile phone technology with web capabilities becoming ubiquitous on the African continent, I do think that there is a huge potential to utilize social media to influence health policy-making on the African Continent.

I could not find any research on the social media and policymaking in Africa. However, I am aware of international organizations that use social media platforms for various forms of health promotion. Yet, what about grassroots organizations? Are you aware of any example of social media being utilized to influence decision-making in the health sector in Africa? Do you think it can be an effective tool? Do let us know your thoughts!

  1. I do think there’s a possibility to do that but haven’t seen it yet.

  2. We haven’t it either! But it is something to consider

  3. Good write-up, I am regular visitor of one’s website, maintain up the nice operate, and It is going to be a regular visitor for a lengthy time.

  4. Great questioning on article! Social media is indeed a great tool

  5. It depends. Personally, I think this would be very difficult to accomplish in Africa- most people are living below the poverty line, and accessing social media is often out of reach to most of the population. When it comes to marketing, it’s more important to first look at the audience, and then pick a messaging tool that is based on the audience preferences. Who are you trying to target? If it is a higher income population, social media might be the best fit – they have access to electricity, a computer, the internet, and access it frequently. But, if it is a lower income population, I would choose radio- everyone has one and accesses it frequently, and it is how most social awareness messages are currently being spread. Fish where the fishes are.

    • Thanks Serena for your comment. I don’t think there is a lot of knowledge on the number of people that have access to the internet. From my own experience, I have observed that a lot of young Africans are active on social media. I do think it is a viable option to reach the youth. However, I guess it is necessary for research to be conducted to determine its usefulness

  6. Interesting question! Although I’m not sure if any research has been conducted to determine how many people have easy access to electricity, the internet, etc in Africa, I have to agree and I also know from personal experience that regardless of socioeconomic status, a lot of young Africans use social media on a regular basis. In fact I know of various friends of the family back home who would be considered “poor” who use the internet, Facebook, Twitter and a host of other social media sites that I don’t even know about quite heavily. May it be trough the use of internet cafes, schools, or friends who have access to a computer, young people nowadays find ways to gain access to social media. Therefore, I think this is a great tool, that has the potential to make a difference as far as health policy-making in Africa. Thanks for the insightful posts!

    • Thanks for your comment! Like I mentioned above, I too have observed an increased usage of social media among the youth in Africa and I do believe there is a potential to use social media to create successful public health advocacy campaigns. However, more research is needed to investigate various issues surrounding its usage on the African continent

  7. You could definitely see your expertise within the work you write. The sector hopes for more passionate writers such as you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. At all times go after your heart.

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