By Mohammad Al-Oufi
THE awareness campaigns implemented by governmental agencies are unsuccessful in achieving their goals of raising awareness. Although these campaigns are sponsored by official agencies, it is possible to say that some of these awareness campaigns have totally failed while others have been very successful.
Historically, we do not suffer from a lack of awareness campaigns. All ministries and governmental institutions have launched campaigns in the past. Some of the topics relate to drugs, seat belts, speeding, driving safe, not hiring overstayers, rationing water and electricity and smoking etc. Are these awareness campaigns really effective? Do they achieve their goals? Most, if not all, of these campaigns have failed in achieving their goals. The campaigns are repeated, but success is limited.
In my opinion, some of the reasons for their failure include a lack of planning. Their failure is also a result of the limited experience in dealing with different sectors of society. They usually tend to address all of society in one language, without taking into consideration the age gap as well as the educational and social differences. All of this goes back to the superficial planning of such campaigns. These awareness campaigns should be based on precise and practical studies. A lot of citizens barely care about the awareness campaigns that take place. Some citizens are aware of the consequences and have witnessed real life examples, yet they do not learn. If these people do not learn from real life examples, how can an awareness campaign change their minds?
I am not underestimating the role of awareness campaigns but their success is very limited compared to the huge amounts of money spent on implementing them.
Recently, the Ministry of Health adopted a new strategy. It canceled an awareness campaign about smoking and decided to use the money in rescuing and healing patients suffering from illnesses associated with smoking. It is much more effective and logical to spend this money on treating people, rather than launching awareness campaigns that hardly impacts people. This is especially the case since almost everyone is aware of the consequences of smoking and do not need a campaign to make them further aware.
This is not just limited to smoking. The campaigns relating to safe driving and drugs are also not very successful. The decision of the Ministry of Health might affect other governmental agencies and, hopefully, they will stop their campaigns and start using the budget to actually help people.