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Newspaper coverage of maternal health in Bangladesh, Rwanda and South Africa: a quantitative and qualitative content analysis
  1. Frey Gugsa1,
  2. Ellora Karmarkar2,
  3. Andrew Cheyne3,
  4. Gavin Yamey4
  1. 1University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
  2. 2Department of Internal Medicine-Pediatrics, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  3. 3Department of Policy, California Association of Food Banks, Oakland, California, USA
  4. 4Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to Frey Gugsa; Frezgra{at}


Objective To examine newspaper coverage of maternal health in three countries that have made varying progress towards Millennium Development Goal 5 (MDG 5): Bangladesh (on track), Rwanda (making progress, but not on track) and South Africa (no progress).

Design We analysed each country's leading national English-language newspaper: Bangladesh's The Daily Star, Rwanda's The New Times/The Sunday Times, and South Africa's Sunday Times/The Times. We quantified the number of maternal health articles published from 1 January 2008 to 31 March 2013. We conducted a content analysis of subset of 190 articles published from 1 October 2010 to 31 March 2013.

Results Bangladesh's The Daily Star published 579 articles related to maternal health from 1 January 2008 to 31 March 2013, compared to 342 in Rwanda's The New Times/The Sunday Times and 253 in South Africa's Sunday Times/The Times over the same time period. The Daily Star had the highest proportion of stories advocating for or raising awareness of maternal health. Most maternal health articles in The Daily Star (83%) and The New Times/The Sunday Times (69%) used a ‘human-rights’ or ‘policy-based’ frame compared to 41% of articles from Sunday Times/The Times.

Conclusions In the three countries included in this study, which are on different trajectories towards MDG 5, there were differences in the frequency, tone and content of their newspaper coverage of maternal health. However, no causal conclusions can be drawn about this association between progress on MDG 5 and the amount and type of media coverage of maternal health.

  • Millennium Development Goal 5
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Newspaper
  • Bangladesh
  • Rwanda
  • South Africa

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