BY OSWALD AGWU
Radio presenters, journalists and other media workers involved in health and other behavioural change campaigns in Nigeria have been challenged to practice what they preach as a vital approach to winning their audiences.
The call was part of outcome of the ongoing technical and thematic training workshop organised by Breakthrough Action, Nigeria with support from the United States Agency for International Development held in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
The training workshop which revolves around malaria, family planning and other maternal and child health issues, seek to build media workers capacity towards achieving behavioural change through effective communication.
Senior Programme Officers including Amina Kato, Eze Eze among others serving as resource persons at the workshop confirmed the vital role of media programmes and research in combating malaria, promoting child spacing and other family planning concepts.
Eze advised programme presenters in media organizations to always take into consideration the views of their audiences by creating viable feedback mechanism knowing that communication does not happen in a vacuum.
He further harped on the need for journalists and presenters to carry out content research on the subject matter of their presentation warning that the audience fill the gaps when there is a lack of information.
Eze emphasized: “Don’t see things from your own perspective alone but also from the audience perspective.
“How people see, shape what they know; what they know shape what they believe; what they believe, shape how they act.
“Effective listening is key to effective communication and when non-verbal message conflict with verbal one, listen to non-verbal.
“What we do is more important than what we say: action talks best.”
On malaria, the resource persons revealed that 8 percent of children aged 6 to 59 Months in Nigeria have anaemia prevalence in malaria. They advised families and care givers to always test all suspected fever before treatment and to adhere to the full course of ACT in malaria treatment.
They observed that though 61 percent of families in Nigeria own at least one long lasting insecticidal net, much needed to be done by the media in terms of cross-level advocacy to improve usage compliance in most focal states.
Sleeping inside long lasting insecticidal nets, according to them, still remain the best option for malaria prevention
On family planning, Mrs Paschaline Edim, identified religious and cultural beliefs/practices; low educational levels, lack of adequate information, fear of side effects, opposition from husbands and families as well as poverty as inhibitions towards achieving desired result in the campaign.
She charged media workers to always complement the efforts of health practitioners on the gains of child spacing through enhanced behavioural change programmes and articles.
Edim however, emphasized that family planning should be predicated on voluntarianism and informed choice.
The Breakthrough Action has its background from the John Hopkins Centre for Communicative Programme.
It is a replacement for the former Social behaviour change programme, Health Communication Capacity Collaborative, HC3.
It is a USAID’s flagship programs for social and behavior change, working to increase the practices of priority health behaviors ranging from modern contraceptive methods, sleeping under bed nets to being tested for HIV—for improved health and development outcomes.
The Breakthrough Action, Nigeria, since it’s inception in 2018 has been partnering with Federal, State Governments, US President’s Malaria Initiative for States Project, National Malaria Elimination Programme USAID implementing partners to build capacity as well as advocacy for malaria, HIV control; family planning and other related health matters.
It has eight States currently in Nigeria as its focal States. They include Akwa-Ibom, Benue, Cross River, Ebonyi, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Oyo and Zamfara.
Participants in the training workshop were drawn from Ebonyi, Akwa Ibom, Cross River and Oyo states, comprising those in print as well as electronic media.