Making a difference through mass media
Effective communication has long been recognized as the gateway to impactful programming at all levels of project planning, engagement, implementation, monitoring and feedback to the community. Factual information on transmission and cure of TB has remained inadequate resulting in treatment failures and ever increasing incidence of DR-TB in Nigeria. This informed the decision by FHI 360 to embark on state wide broadcast of radio and television (TV) jingles, and bulk short message services (SMS) in five (5) states of Nigeria, namely, Lagos, Kano, Cross River, Edo and Anambra states.
With funding from USAID, the mass media project was implemented between the months of July – December, 2013. Mass media has remained the favored medium of communication because of its veracity, wide reach, coverage, real time effect and ability to reach the target population wherever they may be found. The message content targeted the physical presentation of a TB suspect/patient (signs and symptoms), availability of free services at designated points and the fact that early treatment guarantees cure.
In order to assess whether the mass media intervention resulted in improvement in TB suspects identification across all the locations covered, FHI 360 engaged the services of a media consultant to monitor and evaluate the effect of the intervention across all 5 states. Up to 230 questionnaires were administered to a randomly selected sample population of people who were resident in the intervention states. Data analysis revealed that seventy percent of respondents heard the aired TB messages. State level aggregate health facility data on new TB suspects identified two quarters before and after the intervention showed significant increase in the number of new TB suspects identified. This bears possible credence to the mass media campaigns in the 5 states.
It is hoped that the increasing trend will be sustained as FHI 360 continues to collaborate with the host government to carry out routine community mobilization and sensitization activities in the intervention states. It is also hoped that the ongoing community TB care interventions in the selected states will serve as triggers for increased TB suspects’ identification and case detection.