Mass Kidney Failure and Mass Media Failure in Sri Lanka

The kidneys are vital organs in our body that help keep the blood clean and chemically balanced through filtering. Healthy kidneys separate waste and excess water.

Similarly, a healthy and vibrant media helps separate fact from fiction, and provides clarity and context vital for an open, pluralistic society to function.

In Sri Lanka, mass kidney failure during the past two decades has been followed by what I see as a mass media failure to understand, analyse and report adequately on this public health emergency. Instead of helping affected people and policy makers to work out solutions, some journalists have become mere amplifiers of extreme activist positions.

As health officials and policy makers struggle with the prolonged humanitarian crisis, partisan media coverage has added to public confusion, suspicion and fear. As a science writer and journalist, I have watched this with growing concern.

I just gave a talk on this to the Science Communication Leadership Workshop which was part of the First General Assembly of Association of Academies and Societies of Sciences in Asia (AASSA) held in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on 17 October 2012.

Here is my presentation:

See also my recent writing on this topic:

Sunday column 19 Aug 2012: Science and Politics of Kidney Disease in Sri Lanka

Sunday column 26 Aug 2012: Watch out! Everybody Lives Downstream…

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