Using radio to tackle stigma and pain

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Author: BBC Media Action's Alice Mbelwa, May 25 2014 - Heavily pregnant, experiencing difficulties and far from any medical professionals, Adelina, a farmer from Kobunshwi in north-west Tanzania, wasn’t able to get the help she needed.

Complications during childbirth led to the death of her baby and left her with obstetric fistula, which is a hole between the birth canal and bladder or rectum. This serious injury is usually the result of prolonged, obstructed (often unattended) labour.

Adelina lived with discomfort caused by chronic incontinence and the stigma associated with the condition for five years.

Until one day Alfred her uncle, an avid radio listener, heard something that caught his attention.

A reporter on Haba na Haba (Little by Little) our discussion show, was telling listeners about free medical treatment to repair obstetric fistula. It was this crucial information that led to Adelina seeking treatment.

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The 'othering' of development and SDGs

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Author: Ranjani K. Murthy, May 25 2016 - Development discourse has often about paid attention to problems of developing countries, and till recently the analysis was largely done by those in developed countries.  Developing countries are the "other" in the relationship - to be dissected, analysed and solutions given.  The Millennium Development Goals applied to the "other" countries.

The Sustainable Development Goals, on the other hand, pertain to both developed and developing countries.  This is definitely a progress.

However, the 'othering' of development continues in indirect ways.

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Need to address the trauma from sexual abuse critical

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Author: PSAf Executive Director Lilian Kiefer, May 25 2016 - In many parts of our society, children in general and particularly girls are exposed to numerous vices that limit their opportunity to develop to their full potential. The vices that lead to this unfortunate circumstance are many, but most of them are preventable. Child sexual abuse is one such vice that ruins children’s lives, yet it can be prevented if children are protected effectively.

Children, especially girls, who suffer emotional, physical and/or mental abuse end up with very low aspirations, low self-confidence and low self-esteem which compromise their ability to unlock their own potential. Due to limited understanding and appreciation among stakeholders of the impact of abuse on children’s lives, supportive psychosocial actions for children are inadequate and most cases almost unavailable.

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Gambo, the radio show superfan

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Author: Haruna Kakangi, May 19 2016 - On a Thursday morning in the ancient town of Bauchi in north-east Nigeria, I’m sitting with a group of 10 men and seven women by the side of a road in a quiet neighbourhood. The sun is bright and hot, but we’re sitting on mats in the cool shade of a tree, and it seems like the perfect place to discuss a radio programme close to all of our hearts.

I’m a presenter and assistant producer on the Hausa-language radio magazine show Ya Take Ne Arewa (What’s Up in the North). YTNA, as we call it for short, covers a range of mother-and-child health topics: medical care for mothers during pregnancy, diarrhoea and malaria prevention, and other simple measures that can prevent unnecessary deaths and help people live healthier lives. It airs on radio stations across northern Nigeria, where rates of maternal and child mortality are high.


The people I’m with today in Bauchi are members of a listening group devoted to YTNA, organised by a man our team calls ‘the superfan’: Umar Faruk, aka ‘Gambo’.

“I never miss the programme,” he says with pride. “That’s the reason I carry my radio with me everywhere I go.”

Gambo, 35, is married with two children. His wife Shafa’atu is a regular listener too.

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A brush with Somalia's people smugglers

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Author: Mohammed A. Gaas, May 18 2016 - I came home from work to find my wife, visibly worried, standing at the gate. She had news about my teenage nephew.

"Abdirisaq hasn't come home yet. Something must have happened to him. He’s never been out beyond 6pm", she stressed as she flexed her fingers.

I tried to calm her but as the evening progressed, I had no choice but to go out and look for him. The first place I checked was his friend’s home, only to find out that his friend was missing too.

I checked the hospital and the central police station in vain.

It was now approaching midnight and my search was unfruitful - he was nowhere to be found. We spent the long night calling relatives and thinking of places he might have gone.

Illegal migration

Our biggest fear was that he had decided to migrate, like so many young men in our community, and was on his way to Ethiopia. The practice of illegal migration is known here as ‘tahrib’.

Many young men like him dream of destinations in Europe, Canada, Australia and America, hopeful of a better and brighter life.

The next day, I left at dawn accompanied by a police officer, driving towards one of the main migration points at the border town of Toog Wajale.

On arrival we were told by an immigration official that he suspected my nephew had already left with people smugglers.

I tried to persuade him to accompany us in our search.

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Developing the talent of Somali journalists

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Author: BBC Media Action's Abdillahi Jama, May 5 2016 - As a Somali journalist, I’ve seen a lot. As the 1991 civil war erupted in Mogadishu, bombs and bullets interrupted my journalism studies. Finding it impossible to finish - despite being in the final stage of writing up my thesis - I packed my bags to return to the relative safety of my family home in Somaliland.

On arrival, I found that war had weakened free-speech in Somaliland. There was no room for independent media and journalists were regularly harassed.

Imprisoned for setting up an independent newspaper

That’s why I helped set-up 'Voice of Hargeisa', Somaliland’s first independent newspaper. It was seen as a direct affront to the government of the time and I was imprisoned for a month along with my team. Only with the help of lawyer, Raqia Omaar (sister of former BBC Correspondent, Rageh Omaar) and a swell of public support, were we finally released.

Finding a job at Radio Hargeisa in 1992, I worked my way up the ladder from reporter to Head of Programmes.

Now, I work as a producer for BBC Media Action, helping develop Hiigsiga Nolosha (Inspirations for Life), an interactive radio show for Somali youth covering important subjects, such as relationships, unemployment and migration.

It’s at BBC Media Action that I met Sakariye, a talented young reporter employed by BBC Media Action as a radio station mentor, to strengthen the production and editorial skills of my old employer, Radio Hargeisa.

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A life-changing TV show

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Author: BBC Media Action's Bidhya Chapagain, May 5 2016 - I had first met Ujeli on a chilly morning outside a temporary shelter on top of a hill in Selang, Sindhupalchowk, just northeast of Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu. The encampment of rickety houses was home to 300 families, displaced from nearby villages by Nepal’s 2015 earthquake. Ujeli, a 15-year old girl, was one of the residents.

We’d spotted her playing with her friends while we were filming a special episode of Sajha Sawal (Common Questions), about improving accountability in Nepal's post-earthquake reconstruction efforts. The programme featured a Q&A between a government minister and villagers, who noted that the provision of adequate education and clean water had been slow. The minister promised he would highlight their issues in cabinet.

I found Ujeli very clever and full of dreams. She aspired to complete her education but was deeply worried she’d be married off before she had the chance.

She hoped, one day, of visiting the ‘tall buildings’ of the city. Her story touched thousands once the episode had broadcast and as a direct result of the programme, a benefactor offered her a scholarship to study at a school in Kathmandu.

I met Ujeli again last week, one year on from the earthquake that had destroyed her home and so many others.

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Data for Decision-Making: Empowering Local Data Use

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Authors: Lora Shimp, Technical Director, with Heather Randall, Program Coordinator, GAVI-NVI Project, May 4 2016 - As we celebrate World Immunization Week [April 25], it's important to remember that one way to "close the gap" on immunization services is by re-examining the wealth of data currently available at the country level and empowering health workers to leverage their historical data to reach their target populations more effectively.

The Expanded Program on Immunization has been in existence in most countries for more than 30 years. In the field of immunization, we are accustomed to collecting data: coverage by antigen; dropout between doses of the same vaccines; target population figures; enumeration and locations of these populations. We have reference documents, such as Immunization in Practice, that have been used in training for decades and updated regularly. We also now have dashboards and technology to help us synthesize and report these data.

But are we helping the end-line users and those collecting the data at its source to make decisions themselves with their own data? Are we too focused on the short-term data (this month, this year) and not on analysis of the trends and how our program and activities are faring over time?

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Can a Pilot Succeed?: Lessons Learned in Engaging Stakeholders for HPV Introduction

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Authors: Lora Shimp, Technical Director, GAVI-NVI Project, and Heather Casciato, Program Manager, GAVI-NVI Project, May 4 2016 - This World Immunization Week [April 25] 2016, eyes are focused on countries' progress towards achieving the global immunization goals laid out in the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Vaccine Action Plan 2011-2020 (GVAP). One GVAP goal that the world is on track to meet is: 86 of at least 90 low- and middle-income countries have introduced one or more new or underutilized vaccines. Moving forward, it is critical to leverage this country enthusiasm and commitment to vaccine introduction, including with one of the world’s newer vaccines, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. HPV vaccine protects women from the most dangerous strains of HPV that lead to approximately 70% of cases of cervical cancer in women worldwide[1].

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Closing the Immunity Gap

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Author: Craig Burgess, Senior Technical Officer, JSI, May 4 2016 - Every child has the right to health and should have the opportunity to survive, develop, and reach their potential in the context of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).

Who can disagree?

Every child has the right to be immunized, but closing the immunity gap needs everyone to go beyond a) technical 'group think' comfort zone rhetoric; b) dusty plans lying in bottom drawers; and c) attending national and global health cocktail parties. We all need to better understand the reasons for inertia to addressing immunization inequities and actually reach marginalized populations with what they need. Marginalized communities have the greatest disease burden and least resources to respond to infection.

An immunity gap is everybody’s business: it leads to increased disease incidence, outbreaks and deaths from preventable disease – all of which have no respect for borders.

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