Society for Family Health Rwanda (SFH), in conjunction with local leaders, has launched the use of television in health communication campaigns across rural communities in Eastern Province.
The NGO has donated a flat screen TV sets to each district in the province with more screens expected to be distributed in each sector.
Handing over television sets in Kayonza and Nyagatare districts at the weekend, Manassee Gihana, an official with SFH, said the screens would be used to deliver instant messages designed to raise awareness about health issues, provoke dialogue and change health behaviors.
“The television sets will be placed in strategic locations where disease control and prevention news, including anti-HIV/Aids and STDs campaigns, family planning programmes, health and hygiene tips will be communicated,” Gihana said.
The NGO intends to sponsor several health-related programmes on national TV and also give recorded programmes to districts.
It would persuade and influence behavioural change targeting specific audiences to adopt positive health practices, he added.
Boosting government efforts
According to Gihana, the new approach would boost government’s efforts to win the battle against the leading causes of preventable death.
“Media campaigns against diseases have been successful in most cases. There is no doubt that this new tactic in the health campaign will do well. Exposing health consequences due to some behaviour have positive social impact,” Gihana said.
Odette Uwamariya, the governor of Eastern Province, said televised health campaign is a crucial tool.
“SFHR has a programme on creating awareness of the importance of clean water; it is important since not all our people have access to clean water,” Uwamariya said.
Residents welcomed the new strategy, but said most rural areas will not use the screens due to lack of power.
“Some sectors have no TV or radio signal, so much as the television sets would be useful, they may not be viewed in Mukama, Kiyombe or Karama sectors. Accessibility should be considered first,” said Alfred Mugisha, a resident.
The nonprofit organisation implements diverse public health interventions in HIV/Aids, reproductive health, malaria, and maternal and child health and nutrition.