National media channels to work with the Government to improve health of the people

May 15, 2017

 Islamabad: 15 May 2017- The Ministry of National Health Services Regulations & Coordination has received support from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and national TV and radio stations to support transmission of priority health public service announcements on their channels. The agreement is in line with the Public Service Message ruling within the (PEMRA) Ordinance, Section 20 (e) Act 2007 (amendment), Clause 9, Schedule C of the PEMRA Rules 2009. The ordinance obliges licensees of television stations in Pakistan to allocate up to 10 percent of their air-time to airing of public service messages, including priority health and social welfare programs delivered to communities in Pakistan. Following correspondence between Ministry of NHS and the PEMRA Chair earlier this year, PEMRA agreed to run the priority tobacco control messages on all national TV and FM radio stations in the country.

Saira Afzal Tarar, Minister of State, has   said; “This is a historic moment where the national media networks will be working with the government to raise awareness of critical health issues aimed at reducing the considerable burden of death and disease caused by tobacco which results in high rates of cancers, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, diabetes and strokes. Through the delivery of these messages the media will be giving back to the community through their corporate social responsibility.” 
The initial pilot communication campaign to launch on all stations called “Sponge.” The public service announcement has already run on national channels through a paid media plan in 2016. The announcement is one of the most powerful tobacco control messages ever made having been successfully pre-tested in the region and now used in health campaigns in more than 20 countries globally. 
Director, of Tobacco Control Cell stated, “The Tobacco Control Cell is very pleased to see that tobacco control messages have been given a priority with the first pilot campaign for the PSM ruling, given the considerable and rising health care costs to the community from tobacco related diseases. We hope that as a result of monitoring of this campaign we will be able to show the Supreme Court that national media in the country are indeed acting in good faith in supporting the public by delivering these important health messages.”
The Sponge campaign spots will run on all stations in the lead-up to World No Tobacco Day on May 31st. During this time, it is expected that thousands of TV and radio spots will be aired during prime time and off peak periods.
Following review of the compliance report by PEMRA and  Ministry of NHS,  a number of future campaigns are already being planned to tackle the scourge of tobacco and other NCD risk factors given the enormous health care costs and productivity losses to the economy from non-communicable diseases.