Communication. It’s necessary for all interactions, and in the 21st century it’s thought to be possible across all land, seas, and everything in between because of technology. In developing nations, this is not always the case. In developed nations, this is not always the case. Although technology has been spreading to the least likely of places, many parts of the world are left in the dark both figuratively and realistically when it comes to receiving information through any type of communication. Marginalized communities both here and far are left in the dark when it comes to not only receiving information but also understanding it as knowledge.
Just two days ago, here in the United States, Pfizer recalled one million birth control/oral contraceptive pills for having packaged the pills in the wrong order. Every woman taking those pills that have been recalled is at-risk for pregnancy because of the miss packaging and every one of those women has been deceived. The question is how many of these women know that this has happened and furthermore, how this type of message would be communicated in a developing nation where electricity/communication technology is scarce.
Besides the fact that this was a mistake with heavy ramifications for the women who thought they were being protected, this recall has many other repercussions for the women on these birth control pills who don’t know about the recall. For people who don’t watch the news frequently, listen to the news radio stations, or read the news online or in newspapers, how are they to find out? For those with no access to televisions or internet and who don’t have the money to buy newspapers, how will they find out so further damage can be prevented?
The point that I am trying to make is that although we may have a great amount of technology in the United States, which many people have the privilege to use, there are many others who do not have access to it or who do not utilize it. How do we accommodate everyone when mistakes are made and significant health-related or dire information must be communicated? How can we use technology to communicate messages that need to be heard?
I heard about the recall from my mom, and while I’m fortunate to not be affected by it, there are many others who are. Is relaying the information on news shows enough? Are there better ways to communicate significant information or to encourage others to communicate this information to everyone they know? This made me question the types of communication we use in the United States and whether or not they are as effective as we may think. As soon as I found out about the recall, I wanted to tell every female I knew on birth control, and even others that I wasn’t sure about (whether or not they were on birth control). I’m not so sure how many women or men would do this whether they felt comfortable doing so or not. Have we lost sight of the communication practices of the old days that may have been more effective in certain ways than the systems we use now?
Unwin discusses effective communication in development practices and the different senses that play into communication. I think as we consider how to develop communication in developing nations, it’s important we still think about our own communication processes and how the media affects the knowledge we receive as well as what we do with it.
Additionally, another topic I’d like to bring up for discussion with this is how this issue should be considered when dispersing medicine or any type of medical treatment in the developing world with broken communication systems. Should issues like this play a role in what is dispersed or how it is monitored? How can we change the communication networks and systems in place to reach as many people as we can in the developed and developing worlds?