The Ministry of National Health Services Regulations & Coordination has received support from the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and national TV and radio stations to support transmission of priority health public service announcements on their channels. The agreement is in line with the Public Service Message ruling within the (PEMRA) Ordinance, Section 20 (e) Act 2007 (amendment), Clause 9, Schedule C of the PEMRA Rules 2009. The ordinance obliges licensees of television stations in Pakistan to allocate up to 10 percent of their air-time to airing of public service messages, including priority health and social welfare programs delivered to communities in Pakistan. Following correspondence between Ministry of NHS and the PEMRA Chair earlier this year, PEMRA agreed to run the priority tobacco control messages on all national TV and FM radio stations in the country.
Saira Afzal Tarar, Minister of State, has said; “This is a historic moment where the national media networks will be working with the government to raise awareness of critical health issues aimed at reducing the considerable burden of death and disease caused by tobacco which results in high rates of cancers, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, diabetes and strokes. Through the delivery of these messages the media will be giving back to the community through their corporate social responsibility.”
The initial pilot communication campaign to launch on all stations called “Sponge.” The public service announcement has already run on national channels through a paid media plan in 2016. The announcement is one of the most powerful tobacco control messages ever made having been successfully pre-tested in the region and now used in health campaigns in more than 20 countries globally. Director, of Tobacco Control Cell stated, “The Tobacco Control Cell is very pleased to see that tobacco control messages have been given a priority with the first pilot campaign for the PSM ruling, given the considerable and rising health care costs to the community from tobacco related diseases.