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  Engaging the Media in Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health Issues in Lebanon | 18/06/2014  

The Youth Sexual and Reproductive Health Working Group (YSRH-WG), led by Drs. Lilian Ghandour and Faysal El Kak, at the Faculty of Health Sciences (FHS) at the American University of Beirut (AUB) held, on June 18, 2014, a half day meeting on “Engaging media in youth sexual and reproductive health issues in Lebanon” as part of advocacy, dissemination and dialogue towards promotion of youth sexual and reproductive health. The meeting took place at Crowne Plaza Hotel and included 17 journalists from different local media in Lebanon.

In summary, the main recommendations emanating from the meeting were:

- Media should support more open, transparent and informative SRH discourse as risks are heightened by youth lack of access to reliable resources and adequate services related to sexual and reproductive health.

- Media should communicate evidence based SRH knowledge and address what is considered as “taboo” issues yet in a well-shaped interesting framework that is socially comprehensible and acceptable.

- In the absence of specialized media, journalists should seek a reliable source of information in order to deliver timely, accurate, and high quality information that would positively impact youth SRH. This may include experts in the field of sexuality and sexual health (physicians, academicians, researchers, and others) that would inform on ongoing evidence based SRH research, and guide on pressing SRH issues to be tackled.

- Defining the target audience and its characteristics along the suitable media channel are essential steps for effective dissemination of SRH messages.

- Media should take advantage of the growing social media and communication system to support SRH knowledge exchange and address burning issues especially targeting youth.

- Media’s approach to sexual health should be holistic and comprehensive by taking into consideration the political, cultural, and economic context that affects people’s sexual and reproductive health.

- Media messages should be carefully designed to avoid victim blaming and judgmental attitudes.

- Media discourse should focus on sexual health within the framework of human rights, by taking a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual health rather than only emphasize on diseases and illnesses.

- Sexual health includes several sub-topics such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI), sexually transmitted infections (STIs), sexual dysfunction, gender-based violence, sexual abuse, infertility, reproductive health and others. Media should tackle each topic separately rather than addressing all related themes at once. This would enhance audience’s receptivity to the intended message to be delivered.


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