“Health beyond diseases must be communicated”, says Dr. Acharya at KSMC

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Dr. Lalatendu Acharya, Assistant Professor of Health Sciences at Indiana University Kokomo, USA explained the complex relations between health and communication in a thought-provoking session at the KIIT School of Mass Communication (KSMC) on 13th December 2023.

Students of Bachelor of Communication and Journalism (BCJ) and Master of Communication and Journalism (MCJ) attended the session led by Dr. Acharya, where he began by questioning the common notion of health. He dissected the ten leading causes of death, shedding light on diseases ranging from heart disease and stroke to infectious diseases. He painted a vivid picture of the complex interplay between choices and well-being by investigating social causes, genetic influences, and the insidious role of media manipulation.

While Dr. Acharya acknowledged the difficulty of behaviour change, he emphasized its possibility through sustained reinforcement. He identified key factors influencing behaviour, including people, situations, context, peer pressure, upbringing, and media influence, urging listeners not to “ignore the forest while looking at the tree.”

With over 50% of deaths attributed to behaviour, Dr. Acharya highlighted the crucial role of communicators in advocating for positive change. He identified family, government, healthcare professionals, and the media as key stakeholders in this mission. Dr. Acharya underscored the importance of public speaking, understanding, active listening, and research in effective health communication by equipping aspiring communicators with essential skill sets. He emphasized the need for mass communication professionals to be well-versed in health-related issues, citing access, education, and influence as key motivators.

During a Q&A session, Dr. Acharya addressed student queries on topics ranging from body dysphoria to the impact of AI on the future of health communication. The session concluded with a call to address the challenges posed by misinformation and disinformation in health communication, leaving the students empowered and enlightened.

Earlier, Dr. Bidu Bhusan Dash, Acting Dean, KSMC and Dr. Rajeev Kumar Panda, Associate Dean welcomed Dr. Acharya. Ms. Shubhechha Singh, an MCJ student introduced to the speaker, whereas Ms. Ruby Nanda and Dr. Sananda Mukherjee felicitated him. The programme concluded with a vote of thanks.

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