Have you ever heard the term “Health Marketing”? I certainly haven't, until recently when I decided to research a specific health topic. So I turned to the “credible source” of health information, the CDC (Center for Decease Control and Prevention), a government agency.
Feeling confident in my source (after all, they taught us about this source in the journalism school), I typed in the website address: www.cdc.gov
After surfing through flashy banners about viruses, flu and vaccinations, I decided to visit the section “About Us”. This is where I first came to learn about Health Marketing. I also learned that this is who updates CDC's website.
Well, naturally, I wanted to know what is Health Marketing and what does it have to do with CDC. I clicked on the link in the CDC's “About Us” section, which goes to: cdc.gov/healthmarketing page and discovered some interesting definitions of it. This one says:
Hmm. Then I sent a mass text message to my friends and asked them if they knew what Health Marketing was. Some of them responded something like this “I'm not sure, but it sounds like someone is trying to sell me something I don't need to buy”..
So I turned to my university health professors. They didn't know either.
Finally, I decided to call CDC.
I called the main number and got transferred to the Vaccinations department. The woman on the other end was prepared to tell me everything about the vaccination schedule. But that's not what I wanted to know.
When I asked her about Health Marketing, she hesitated and wanted to know how I know about it. I told her I saw it on the CDC website in the “About Us” section. While on the phone with me, she clicked and saw what I saw.
“Oh, health marketing! They are part of CDC. They are one of our branches,” she said.
After I hung up the phone, I felt that something wasn't right. There was a conflict going on.
How could CDC hold the interest of American people when it comes to their health and also have an interest of selling health products and services? Don't the two conflict? Am I the only one who sees this conflict of interest?
I asked people about it and some of them agreed with me. They reminded me that medicine is a commercial, for-profit industry and that it is no wonder that it is driven by health marketing. Yet others thought there must be some other explanation.
But whatever this is, I think the word “credible” no longer applies to information coming from CDC. At least, not in my book.