Health and education

Press Freedom for Development

Health, education, and services generally depend on the timely provision of quality information, and media play a key role not only by disseminating information to the public but by providing a forum for communication between policymakers, service providers, and the public about needs, priorities, and setbacks. As far back as the 1992 Rio Declaration, states have affirmed that “individual participation in decision-making, access to information and to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, are essential enablers for inclusive, sustainable development.”

Press freedom is related to longer life expectancy, less undernourishment and infant mortality, and higher public expenditure on health. One case study found that Indian states with higher levels of newspaper circulation were most responsive to shocks to food production. A study in Uganda showed that educational objectives, such as enrollment and test scores, improved in areas with higher newspaper penetration, while another study found that provision of mass information to poor Ugandans contributed to the success of a public program designed to increase primary education. The U.K.-based non-government organization Article 19 has similarly documented the link between development, information and free, independent media with several cases studies drawn from its projects promoting the free flow of information around the world.

According to the World Bank: “A free press… contribute(s) to education programs and public health programs such as the fight against HIV/AIDS.” The media has a central role to play in goals related to health, such as reducing the prevalence and deadliness or AIDS or increasing awareness about sexual health and reproduction, which at the very least depend upon the free flow of information.