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Newspapers campaign of hepatitis and its impact on public behaviour towards the illness in calabar metropolis



1.1 Background of the study

Communication in healthcare is now well recognized as tool for influencing lifestyle and health behaviour of the public. Both infectious and noninfectious illnesses are harmed by poor communication. As a result, communication is no longer considered as an afterthought; rather, it is understood to be at the heart of patient care. Communication is crucial in the generation, collection, and dissemination of health data, according to Kreps J. (2003). It is a fundamental human mechanism that allows individuals and groups to adjust to health hazards on a variety of levels including Hepatitis.

Hepatitis has been dubbed a “silent killer” and the world’s seventh biggest cause of death, with more than 686,000 fatalities yearly and an estimated 400 million people living with chronic hepatitis infection (Hirnschall, 2015). Although hepatitis has been around for a long time, it was only in 2010 that the World Health Assembly approved Resolution WHA 63.18 to combat the epidemic by lowering new infections and fatalities caused by the illness. According to studies, hepatitis infection is hyperendemic in Nigeria, and the risk of developing the disease is high due to low vaccination rates and the fact that up to 75% of the population may be infected (Majolagbe, Oladipo, & Daniel, 2014; Musa, Bussell, Borodo, Samaila, & Femi, 2015). According to recent reports, the incidence of hepatitis disease in Nigeria is roughly double the national HIV prevalence rate, with ‘one in every 12 Nigerians infected with Hepatitis B or C,’ with ’25 percent of them going on to develop chronic liver diseases, and between 500,000 and 700,000 deaths annually’ (Muanya, 2015; Onehi, 2015). This means that if nothing is done urgently to stop the spread of hepatitis among Nigerians, it might kill more people than the deadly HIV/AIDS, necessitating intensive media outreach.

It is a well known fact that the greatest approach to raise awareness is through the media, where helpful information can be sent to thousands of individuals in a specific region from a credible source. In other words, in every culture, mass media such as newspapers, radio, television, magazines, posters, pamphlets/leaflets, billboards, the internet, and so on are used to inform, communicate, and educate (among other things) as change agents. On this point, raising public awareness about health concerns through the use of mass media has functioned as a vehicle for combating disease outbreaks in recent years. As a result, the mass media is seen as a vital instrument in furthering society’s public health goals. As a result, using print media to communicate and provide health news and medical therapies to their target audiences will almost surely result in better and more beneficial results. It follows that effective provision of constant health information to Nigerians, in order to sensitize, educate, and mobilize them on the causes of Hepatitis, the various common symptoms, risk factors, preventive measures, and possible treatments, is in the domain of mass communication media, given the media’s ability to inhibit or promote societal change.

1.2       Statement of the problem

Owing to the high occurrence of Hepatiist in sub-Saharan Africa, it has continued to gain significant interest around the globe, with international institutions joining forces to raise awareness, promote the diseases prevention and  formally designating aside 28 July as the World Hepatitis Day. During this season, problems dealing with causes of hepatitis, its modes of transmission, preventative measures and treatment options are frequently discussed in numerous media platforms and other venues to raise public understanding of the illness.

Irrespective of the incidence of new infections and the prevalence of the disease in Nigeria, hepatitis has not been appropriately handled as a severe public health concern. Although, a national guideline for prevention of hepatitis infection among healthcare workers, universal HBV vaccination for children through routine immunization and screening of blood for transfusion has been drafted in Nigeria, the federal government highlighted high cost of hepatitis vaccine and other logistics as factors militating against the inclusion of the adult vaccination in the National Immunization Programme (Obi, 2016). More so, is the absence of a specialized government body to coordinate aggressive behaviour modifications communication programs that encourage positive behaviours like the case of HIV which has the same method of transmission continues to confine the disease prevention.

Central to the problem and the goal of eradicating viral hepatitis, therefore, is health communication. Health communication seeks to reduce down and remove the risk factors of lifestyle health behaviours. It is vital to highlight that the need to understand health information behaviour is rapidly drawing the focus of communication discipline academics. The National Cancer Institute (1989), Duffy B. and Jackson l. (1998), and Bath P (2008) have all established the function of communication in all facets of the health of mankind, especially as it relates to enhancing personal and public health. This is founded on the concept that communication, when applied properly, may raise awareness and inspire important behavior changes. Adequate understanding of the high-risk actions that promote the disease spread has a substantial influence on decreasing hepatitis mortality rate. However, the extent of individuals’ exposure to the various communication channels especially print media aimed at promoting the disease prevention and public knowledge regarding lifestyle behaviours that predispose individuals to the disease as well as knowledge of hepatitis preventive measures has not received adequate attention in Nigeria.Thus it is against the backdrop that this study seeks to examine newspapers campaign of hepatitis and its impact public behaviour towards the illness in Calabar Metropolis

1.3       Objective of the study

The broad objective of this study is to examine newspapers campaign of hepatitis and its impact public behaviour towards the illness in Calabar Metropolis. Specifically the study seeks to:

  1. Explore resident knowledge  of lifestyle behaviours that could expose them to hepatitis infection
  2. Assess if residents’ have knowledge of hepatitis preventive measures
  3. Examine the extent at which newspapers publish campaign on Hepatitis in Calabar Metropolis
  4. Determine if newspaper campaign on Hepatitis would have any significant impact on public behavior towards the illness.

1.4       Research Hypothesis

HO1: The extent at which newspapers publish campaign on Hepatitis in Calabar Metropolis is Low.

HO2: Newspapers campaign on Hepatitis would not have any significant impact on public behavior toward the illness.

1.5       Significance of the study

Findings from the study would have both empirical and practical significance. Empirically, it will contribute to the articulation of the media campaign role in shaping public health behavior towards Hepatitis. Practically the study will serve as a document for government and non-governmental organizations, policy makers and media campaigns planners in the field of Hepatitis. More so, it will enable print media to create more content on hepatitis and other related diseases so as to enlighten the public on how to adjust the lifestyles that could lead to hepatitis.

Additionally, the result of the stud  will serve as a data base to mass communication researchers who may be interested in learning the global fight on Hepatitis and future researchers, who may embarking on similar research in future.

1.6       Scope of the study

The scope of this study borders on newspapers campaign of hepatitis and its impact public behaviour towards the illness. It will explore resident knowledge  of lifestyle behaviours that could expose them to hepatitis infection. It will assess if residents’ have knowledge of hepatitis preventive measures. It would examine the extent at which newspapers publish campaign on Hepatitis in Calabar Metropolis. However the study is delimited to  Calabar Metropolis resident along side selected newspaper within Cross River State.

1.7       Limitation of the study

Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. The significant constraint was the scanty literature on the subject owing that no recent study was conducted on print media campaign and Hepatitis public bahaviour thus the researcher incurred more financial expenses and much time was required in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size. Additionally, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. However in spite of the constraint, all  were downplayed  by the researcher while ensuring that the best is given.

1.9       Definition of terms

Hepatitis: Hepatitis refers to an inflammatory condition of the liver. It is commonly the result of a viral infection, but there are other possible causes of hepatitis. These include autoimmune hepatitis and hepatitis that occurs as a secondary result of medications, drugs, toxins, and alcohol.

Print Media: Print media is one of the oldest and basic forms of mass communication. It includes newspapers, weeklies, magazines, monthlies and other forms of printed journals. Print media has the advantage of making a longer impact on the minds of the reader, with more in-depth reporting and analysis.

Public Health Behavior: Health behaviors are actions individuals take that affect their health. They include actions that lead to improved health, such as eating well and being physically active, and actions that increase one’s risk of disease, such as smoking, excessive alcohol intake, and risky sexual behavior.

Health Communication: Health communication is the study and practice of communicating promotional health information, such as in public health campaigns, health education, and between doctor and patient. The purpose of disseminating health information is to influence personal health choices by improving health literacy.


Obi, P. (2016). High cost of Hepatitis vaccine stalls inclusion in nation wide immunization programme. Retrieved from http://www.thisdaylive.com/index.php/2016/04/25/high-cost-of-hepatitis-vaccine-stalls-inclusion-innationwide-immunization-programme/

Hirnschall, R. (2015). There’s a reason viral hepatitis has been dubbed the ‘silent killer’. Retrieved from www.who. int/mediacentre/commentaries/viral-hepatitis

Onehi, V. (2015, July 15). 20m Nigerians infected with Hepatitis virus-FG. Daily Trust. Retrieved from http://www. dailytrust.com.ng/daily/index.php/news-menu/news/59986-20m-nigerians-infected-with-hepatitis-virusfg?

Muanya, C. (2015, July 31). Hepatitis on the prowl in Nigeria. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://guardian.ng/ features/weekend/hepatitis-on-the-prowl-in-nigeria/

Musa, B. M., Bussell, S., Borodo, M. M., Samaila, A. A., & Femi, O. L. (2015). Prevalence of Hepatitis B virus infection in Nigeria, 2000–2013: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice, 18, 163–172. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.4103/1119-3077.151035

Majolagbe, O. N., Oladipo, E. K., & Daniel, L. E. (2014). Prevalence and awareness of Hepatitis B infection among blood donors in Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital (ATBUTH), Bauchi, Nigeria. International Journal of Multidisciplinary and Current Research, 2, 955–960.

Bath, P. (2008) “Health informatics: current issues and challenges,” Journal of Information Science, vol. 34, no. 4, pp. 501–518.

Duffy B and Jackson, L. (1998)  Health Communication Research: A Guide to Developments and Directions, Greenwood Publishing Group, Westport, CT, USA, 1998.

Kreps, G. (2003) “The impact of communication on cancer risk, incidence, morbidity, mortality, and quality of life,” Health Communication, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 161–169.


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