INFLUENCE OF SOCIAL MEDIA ON MALARIA AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS AMONG STUDENTS

ABSTRACT: The research examined the influence of social media on malaria awareness campaigns among students of the University of Lagos. It was observed that in this era of Information and Communication Technology, social media especially Facebook and Twitter have revolutionized and redefined the monopoly of news and information by mass media (radio, television, newspaper and magazine industries) as it enhances citizen participation in news gathering and dissemination. Social media has in recent times turned the citizen not only as information consumers but also information distributors which are now known as “Citizen Journalism”. A survey research method was adopted while 373 copies of questionnaires were administered and as a research tool in eliciting data from the selected respondents that were randomly selected from all the faculties that cut across Unilag. It was agreed that respondents have one way or the other either seen, post, share, twit, or comment on malaria posts. Also, a larger percentage of the respondents felt the impact of a social media campaign on malaria prevention and controls an average extent. The majority of the respondents submitted that social media campaigns on malaria disease have created awareness and has further reduced its spread among students of Unilag. It was recommended that Government should make sure that the owners of websites and blogs within the country abide to the laws of defamation, obscenity, invasion of privacy and copyright e.t.c This can be done by setting up a body whose sole responsibility is to monitor the manifest content of internet materials.


MALARIA AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS

CHAPTER ONE

Introduction

1.1     Background to the Study     

There is no doubt about the fact that the world is now a global village: the concept which was postulated by “Marshal McLuhan” as cited in Adepoju et. al (2009). According to her “the world is compressed into single electronic room where information from far and near can be exchanged with a click of mouse”. Now not only with a click of mouse but also with other mobile device like Smartphones, 3G and other GPRS enable devices.

The growth of technology toward the end of the 20th century propelled by the emergence of the internet, satellite, telephone, computer e.t.c led to what is called “Modern media or New Media” which later result into what is called social media, social networking, websites and blogging.

Kur (2004) described internet and information technology thus: “imagine a room filled with many spiders, each spinning its own webs. The webs are so interconnected that the spiders can travel freely within this maze”.  Information and Communication Technology (ICT) extends to a range of technological applications such as computer software and hardware, the digital like mobile phones and the internet; and other electronic information resources like the World Wide Web and CD ROMs e.t.c.

However, the birth and development of social media has fundamentally changed how individuals interact in our society, engaging record numbers of people both online and otherwise. Social Networking sites like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and others allow individuals to instantly communicate with large networks of friends, acquaintances and colleagues, while supporting multimedia content linked to other social media applications such as YouTube and Flickr.

Health information gathering is no exception to this phenomenon: social media provides an outlet for the publication of health information to consumers, while allowing consumers to respond and contribute to advice that was traditionally only issued by providers. Social media attends to the needs of modern health consumers, who are highly engaged and desire to be more involved in their health than ever before, while providing the means for reach that was previously unimaginable. Organizations are attracted to using social media partially because of the huge potential it provides in reaching members of their target audience.

Furthermore, messages counter to public health objectives are rapidly being disseminated to the public through social media. For example, large pharmaceutical companies are turning to social media to promote their drug brands, sometimes violating national laws regulating direct to consumer marketing of drugs .

With these advantages, it is no surprise that a variety of Canadian healthcare organizations, including the Public Health Agency of Canada, and many regional health units, such as Toronto Public Health and Peel Public Health are adopting social media in their practices in a variety of ways. Organizations establish pages for community outreach, patient education, marketing and crisis communications, taking advantage of the rapid speed and engaging nature of these sites. The Mayo clinic, a pioneer among health care providers in the use of social media, has recently taken the trend one step further: developing a patient-centered social networking site, allowing patients to interact with one another and healthcare professionals in the manner of Facebook, but on the Mayo’s unique and private global interface .

Mayo reports that over 1000 users joined within the first week, further cementing evidence that consumers wish to amalgamate their health care needs using these tools. Major challenges lie in adapting social media technologies, include logistical issues, such as perceived resistance of government organizations to change, as well as the procedures, policies and manpower needed to launch and effectively maintain a social media presence.

According to the world ranking in June 2013. Facebook was regarded as the most visited website followed by google.com, while Twitter is ranked as one of the ten-most-visited websites worldwide by Alexa’s Web Traffic Analysis (2013) as culled from (ebizmba, 2014). According to the statistics made available on the website, facebook.com has registered users of 900,000,000 while Twitter.com also has 310,000,000

On the other hand, malaria is an acute and chronic mosquito borne disease of man, characterized by chills and fears, anemia splenomegaly and damage to other organs such as: liver and brain.  It is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by protists (a type of microorganism) of the genus Plasmodium.

It begins with a bite from an infected female anopheles mosquito, which introduces the protist through saliva into the circulatory system. In the blood, the protist travels to the liver to mature and reproduce. Malaria causes symptoms that typically include fever and headache, which in severe cases can progress to coma or death. The disease is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions in a broad band around the equator, including much of Sub-Sahara Africa, Asia and the America. 

To this end, one of the major ways to create awareness about this deadly but curable disease is through the use of social networking sites because majority of the people are now on social media. Therefore, the research seeks to examine the impact of social media on malaria campaigns on Facebook and twitter using Osun State University, Osogbo as a reference point. 

1.2     Statement of the Problem

Former Minister of Health, Professor Babatunde Oshotiemeyin once said that “malaria is devastating, families made poor; poorer and costs the nation about 140 billion naira annually”. It hampers children’s schooling and social development in general. It is against this background the research examines the impact of the social media malaria campaign on Facebook and Twitter users, using students of Osun State University, Osogbo as a case study.

It is recorded that at least 5 million and seven hundred and fifty thousand Nigerians are on twitter with a good number of them being young or students. (Twitter statistics, 2012). The source of major malaria information, ideas and concepts being discussed through social media was never measured for credibility.  Opinions and attitudes are only formed based on the information posted on social networking sites since there were no established gatekeepers, unlike traditional media where the reporters, proofreaders and editors make corrections and filter information before disseminating it to the citizens as citizens are now part of information gathering and dissemination.   

1.3     Research Questions

  1. To what extent do students feel the impact of social media campaigns on malaria?
  2. To what extent do social media succeed in creating awareness of the malaria campaign?

1.4     Objectives of the Study

  1. To know whether social media campaign on malaria has reduced their spread among students of tertiary institution.
  2. To determine the level at which students receive adequate information on malaria through Facebook and Twitter.

1.5     Significance of the Study

This research is relatively new to the field of mass communication, although some scholars have written on the impact of mass media in curbing malaria none of them ever write on how to use social media campaigns for the same purpose. Therefore being a new aspect, the work will benefit many organizations and individuals.

First, the study will benefit students and the youth on the need to share and not just use social media to catch fun but for health and academic advancement.

Government and health stakeholders will see the need to adopt social media during the health campaign by sharing the necessary links from their website to the social media timeline for students to see and express their views.  

Future researchers who many what to carry out research in this area or related aspect will find this material as a reference point.

  1.6   Scope of the Study

The study has been limited to Osun State University students Osogbo alone due to time, geographical structure of Nigeria and other logistics since it is very difficult if not impossible to study all the Nigeria tertiary institutions and as a result of this the research focuses on the impact of social media on malaria campaign on Facebook and Twitter using Osun State University students Osogbo. 

1.7     Operational Definition of the Terms

Impact: Noticeable effect or influence of social media on students in creating malaria awareness.

Social Media: A group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of web 2.0 and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content such as Facebook and Twitter.

Malaria: This is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by protists (a type of microorganism) of the genus Plasmodium.

Campaign: This means efforts to create awareness about malaria in our society through social media.

Twitter/Facebook: These are one of the social networking service and microblogging service that enables users to send and read text based messages of up to 140 characters known as tweets

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MALARIA AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS

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