Tag Archives: Channel 4

Channel 4 looks at Africa’s scandalous shortage of pain medications

“without the political will to change, vulnerable people remain deprived of humane treatment and an end to life free of pain.” 

This is the conclusion of the Channel 4 documentary, ‘Africa’s Drug Scandal’ that I helped to coordinate through my work – the African Palliative Care Association. The documentary is due to be broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK at 7:35pm on Friday 30th May 2014.

I am posting about it here because it strikes me as a rare opportunity to get a large number of people thinking about an issue that is incredibly important to me.

The documentary focuses in on the issue of access to pain medications – predominantly oral morphine. Having access to such medication is something that most people in the UK take for granted. If you were diagnosed with a life-threatening illness tomorrow you would assume that you would be given the appropriate pain control that would firstly enable you to live your life to the full but secondly, would enable you to die a peaceful death.

For the majority of people in the world this is simply not the case. Indeed, as ehospice reported last November, due to a lack of access to inexpensive and effective essential opioids more than 4 billion people, over half the world population, live in countries where regulatory barriers leave cancer patients suffering excruciating pain.

In countries like Senegal where the documentary is set the situation is dire. Last October Human Rights Watch found that the government only imports about one kilogram of morphine each year – enough to treat about 200 cancer patients when there is an estimated need in the tens of thousands of patients!

And so, this is one of the corner stones of my organisations work – to lobby, offer training, educate and empower people to ensure that everyone has access to the pain medications they need.

unreported world

It might seem like an abstract issue, but as Krishnan Guru-Murthy, the renowned Channel 4 reporter finds out, once you see a patient suffering in unbearable but perfectly treatable pain you instantly understand the importance of the issue.

Guru-Murthy concludes the situation amounts to “needless cruelty”.

I find it impossible to see how anyone, when faced with this reality could conclude anything different.

The programme can be watched live online here, on 4OD for 30 days after broadcast here, and you can read a preview in the Radio Times here.

Let me know what you think of it in the comments below.

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Why would Channel 4’s decision to broadcast call to prayer ‘inflame community tensions’?

Channel 4 has announced that it will broadcast a call to prayer every day during the Islamic month of Ramadan.

As you could imagine, the tabloids have jumped on this.

The Sun goes with the headline ‘Ramadan a ding dong’ and goes on to explain:

“Daily broadcast of Muslim call to prayer ‘stunt’ could inflame tension”

The article expands on this point through the ever valuable medium of the UKIP’s spokesman. The Sun writes:

“But UKIP accused Channel 4 of a cynical PR stunt and said it risked further inflaming tension between communities in the wake of the Woolwich killing of soldier Lee Rigby – allegedly linked to Islamic extremists.

A spokesman said: “This is a priceless piece of attention seeking. I cannot believe that the majority of mainstream Muslims want to see this. It will inflame community tension.”

In light of this, I have a few questions for the editor of The Sun:

  • Can you clarify why you think the broadcasting of the call to prayer will inflame community tension?
  • Would you agree that quoting “Radical preacher Anjem Choudary, accused of encouraging terrorism” and “Abu Zakariyya, of the radical Islamic Emergency Defence Group”  as your two Muslim representatives might be more of a cause of ‘inflaming community tensions’, than the broadcasting of the call to prayer?
  • Did you approach the Muslim Council of Britain for a quote? If yes, why did you not run with it? If no, why not?
  • Why did you use a UKIP quote in this story? What connection do they have to broadcasting, Islam, sociology or any other element to this story?
  • Do you accept that the structure and nature of your article perpetuates the false link between Islam as a religion adhered to by millions and the extremist violent ideology adhered to by a minority and that this link risks ‘inflaming community tensions’?

And of course a few questions for UKIP:

  • Can you clarify why you think the broadcasting of the call to prayer that will inflame community tension?
  • Do you feel that The Daily Express’ use of the adjective ‘fury’ to describe your party’s reaction to the news is accurate? If so have you considered collective anger management for the party (it could be part of the membership deal)?
  • Can you explain how Channel 4’s decision to broadcast the call to prayer differs to the BBC’s decision to broadcast a Sunday morning service? If you’re answer is numbers (more people are Christian) can you explain why you think a broadcaster should not show minority interests?
  • Can you really not believe that the majority of Muslim’s would want to see Ramadan highlighted like this?
  • How would you respond to the accusation that your party is a baseless bandwagon jumping parasite?

Lastly, an open question to anyone:

  • Why would Channel 4’s decision to broadcast the call to prayer ‘inflame community tensions’?

This list of questions is by no means exhaustive….feel free to suggest others.

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Filed under Far-right politics, Media, Politics, Religion