Participants from two of the three Ebola affected English speaking countries, Liberia and Sierra Leone, have ended a five-day workshop in Monrovia that focused on reproductive and maternal health.
The workshop, which ran from September 7-11, aimed at using the Radio Distance Learning (RDL) initiative to reduce maternal mortality in the sub-region.
The participants examined family and community related health issues, where they would use radio dramas serials to educate and entertain the population on living in healthier communities, highlighting issues such as antenatal care, the use of insecticide-treated bed nets, nutrition and sound hygiene, among others.
The Liberia/Sierra Leone Radio Workshop was organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Health with support from the Health Communication Capacity Collaborative (HC3)-Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Center for Communication Programs (JHUCCP) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
HC3 is a five-year, global project funded by USAID. It is designed to strengthen developing country capacity to implement state-of-the-art social and behavior change communication (SBCC) programs.
Teah Doegmah, JHUCCP’s Social and Behavior Communication Program Officer served as one of the facilitators.
According to him, the 50 participants comprised health workers from the Ministry of Health as well as the Ministry of Health and Environment of Liberia and Sierra Leone. Other civil society actors, from Liberia and Sierra Leone, represented various organizations, including World Vision, Save the Children, Africare, Equip-Liberia, IREX, Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY), and
International Rescue Committee (IRC).
“We talked about the need to sleep under an insecticide-treated mosquito net every night all year round, and also the reduction in child mortality in those Ebola affected countries,” one of the facilitators, Jane Brown, JUCCP’s Senior Program officer, told reporters at the end of the workshop on Friday.
She expressed the belief that the entertainment education radio program showcases role models the audience can identify with and learn from.
She said maternal health, poor nutrition and diarrheal diseases would be addressed in the program, which intends to target huge audiences, adding that the listeners would also become involved in the daily lives of the drama’s characters, relate to the challenges they face and how they address or cope with them particularly with child mortality.
The program capitalizes on other social networks to reinforce healthy behaviors and provide feedback for further programming.
“Alternative feedback platforms could have been letters and phone calls, but letters take long to arrive, and phone calls are way more expensive than SMS,” one of the participants explained, adding that the use of the internet platform will allow audience members to interact, sparking interpersonal discussions that expand into community forums.