Researchers, doctors urged to use simple language to get message across

For over 30 years, Datuk Dr Amar Singh HSS has been an advocate for childcare and health issues, among others.

He believes the most important element in disseminating information to the public is to convey it in a manner that is simple, effective, yet easy to understand.

“It is best to cultivate a relationship with the media and write in a language suitable for the public,” said Dr Amar, a senior consultant paediatrician and researcher.

“You (doctors and researchers) must always be factual, use passion, not emotion, and strike when the iron is hot.

“You must also be imaginative. Sometimes, creating infographics works best in a world that does not read.

“Pictures speak louder and are more effective.”

Dr Amar shared his views during the ‘Responsible Media and Advocacy for Health’ webinar organised by the Malaysian Medical Association, last Saturday.

“You (doctors and researchers) are advocates for the individual who has an unmet, or unvoiced need, or whose basic rights were not met, or were denied,” he said.

“You are also advocates for the development of a programme to support healthcare, to change policy, and society.”

He said while articles quoting doctors or researchers may seem ”nice”, they were pointless if no one read them.

“It is like cooking a nice meal, taking a selfie and posting it (on social media), but not eating it,” said the recipient of 2012’s Outstanding Asian Paediatrician Award, and 2015’s Senior Advocacy Award.

“The audience must easily find what they need, understand what they find, and use that information. The work must be digestible to policymakers, too.”

Dr Amar advises those writing research papers to use summary boxes and be imaginative to get their message across.

He also urged them to be involved as much as possible, read what has been done, collect data, do lots of research, write policy papers, and push for change themselves, without waiting for others.

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, many Malaysians have been fed with poor narratives and remained relatively ill-informed about the coronavirus and its effects.

There had also been misinformation surrounding the Covid-19 vaccines, which had led to certain quarters shying away from getting their shots.

The problem is not exclusive to Malaysia alone.

The World Health Organisation had disseminated information regarding Covid-19 in a series of simple, and easily understood infographics, in a bid to educate the world’s population on the virus.