Local Afghan Media Promote Maternal and Child Health

Maternal and Child Health awareness campaigns can widely contribute to reducing maternal and newborn mortality.
Maternal and child health awareness campaigns can widely contribute to reducing maternal and newborn mortality.
USAID
Contest prompts outlets to educate populace, reduce mortality
“[Local people] were really benefiting from these maternal and child health messages and requested us to share more of these messages on different health issues.”

October 2017—Afghanistan has one of the highest maternal and child mortality rates in the world, with an annual maternal mortality rate of 1,291 per 100,000 live births and an under-5 mortality rate of 55 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to the 2015 Demographic and Health Survey. The leading cause of these deaths is preventable illnesses and health conditions that result from lack of access to health services and low levels of awareness regarding health and hygiene in rural communities.

But health complications and potential deaths may be averted through maternal and child health awareness campaigns.

To help address the situation, in 2016-2017, the USAID-funded HEMAYAT project held a contest for media outlets to develop and share messages promoting maternal, newborn and child health. Seventy-one local outlets participated, including radio, television, print media, and independent journalists across Herat, Kandahar, Balkh, Baghlan and Nangarhar provinces. The media channels were asked to advocate for maternal and child health by broadcasting 23 different types of health messages, prepared by the HEMAYAT project, on family planning, helping babies survive, vaccination and gender.

The maternal and child health messages reached more than 22 million people across the country.

“I watched different maternal, newborn and child health programs on TV. I learned that the polio vaccination is quite important and can save my child’s life. I carried my child to clinic for vaccination and completed the course,” said Omid, a local shopkeeper who uses only one name.

The Ministry of Public Health officially acknowledged the winning media outlets in February 2017, presenting them with media equipment. Media representatives from the five provinces expressed their appreciation for the program, thanking both the leadership of the USAID project and the Ministry of Public Health for the initiative.

“Even after the program ended, we didn’t stop broadcasting the health messages, and they continue now,” said Enayatullah Omid, director of Radio Farhat in Baghlan province, one of the media contest participants. “We used to receive calls from locals about these maternal and child health messages a lot, and they were really benefiting from these messages and requested us to share more of these messages on different health issues.”

The media channels have committed to continuing to educate people by broadcasting 20 audio and video health messages.

USAID’s HEMAYAT project, which runs from 2015 to 2020, partners with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health to bring high-quality health care services to vulnerable, hard-to-reach populations, with a focus on mothers and children.

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Last updated: October 27, 2017

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