Running from February 2014 to May 2014, Wize Up was an urban-based youth television talk show, supported by social media and a radio programme in Malawi. The talk show was designed to communicate information and encourage discussion around young people’s sexual and reproductive health and was broadcast on the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation. The show was produced by Pakachere Institute for Health and Development Communication (IHDC) as part of a regional health communication campaign on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) led by the Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication. It is being funded by the Sweden and Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad).

Communication Strategies: 

Prior to the development and production of the talk show, Pakachere IHDC conducted qualitative audience research on key sexual and reproductive health issues affecting young people in Malawi. The study involved 9 rural youth groups and the findings were used to inform the content for the television episodes. These findings were discussed during a message design workshop to identify key messages, followed by a creative workshop with producers, writers, the host, and the rest of the crew. The resulting creative brief was used as a guideline for all production processes.

The format of the TV talk show involved an insert with brief interviews with youth and parents about topics to be discussed. This was used to facilitate further discussion in the studio with the talk show host and invited guest speakers.

The 13 episodes covered the following topics:

  • Mum and Dad meet my Boyfriend! - discusses the importance of young people opening up with their parents about their sexual relationships.
  • Talking to young people about sex and sexuality - looks at critical skills that parents need to have to effectively communicate age appropriate information about sexuality.
  • When is the right time to start having sex? - questions whether puberty means that one is ready to start having sex. It aims to promote delayed sexual debut.
  • Growing Up? - looks at the different phases of growth for a young person and what that entails in terms of sexual and reproductive health.
  • Puberty - looks at what young people need to expect in puberty and what healthy choices they can make.
  • Do young people understand the consequences of unprotected sex? - discusses whether young people reflect and think through their choices before deciding on having unprotected sex.
  • Gender and safe sex - looks at how the socialisation process affects girls' ability to negotiate safer sex.
  • Should condoms be made accessible to young people? - aims to promote an environment in which young people freely access condoms and sexual and reproductive health services.
  • Young people and access to condoms - the parental perspective - looks at why most parents are against making condoms available to young people and yet evidence shows that most young people are having sex.
  • Should young people use contraceptives? - aims to promote contraceptive uptake among sexually active young people.
  • Dealing with the aftermath of unprotected sex? - provides a reflection on the many challenges that young people who have had unprotected sex go through, be it pregnancy, HIV, STIs or psychological trauma of having to live with that decision.
  • Does sexual and reproductive health rights concern me as a young person? - demonstrates how sexual and reproductive health (SRH) affects both young and old people.
  • Parents as barriers to young people’s access to SRH services - discusses how parents can positively or negatively affect young people’s ability to access sexual and reproductive health services.

Wize Up is a brand that was developed by Soul City’s regional partners in nine southern Africa countries (see related summaries below). The Wize Up brand in Malawi was already known in Malawi through a radio programme that aired for almost 30 weeks in 2013 on 4 national radio stations. The brand is built around empowering young people to take control of their sexual decisions so that they live protected and healthy lives.

According to Pakachere, the branding of the television programme was designed to be appealing to youth. This included a youthful and trendy host and a set that was intended to be appealing for youth. Pakachere IHDC also printed and distributed Wize Up merchandise such as t-shirts, rulers, and brochures and worked with popular Malawian hip-hop singer, Fredokiss, to produce a Wize UP music video. The song aired on national television and on radio stations to promote the Wize Up brand.

The Wize Up facebook page and SMS communication was used to support and complement the discussions on TV. Initially Pakachere IHDC posted weekly information linked to the topics of the television programme. People were also able to contact Pakachere IHDC privately by sending a message to the facebook inbox. Since going off air, the facebook discussions continue, addressing any sexual and reproductive health issues affecting young people. Social media also allowed Pakachere IHDC to receive programme feedback from young people about the show.

Development Issues: 

HIV/AIDS, youth, sexual and reprodutive health and rights

Key Points: 

Pakachere IHDC is currently in the process of producing the second series of Wize Up with support from UNFPA. It is hoped that it will be ready for broadcast on MBC TV by August 2014.

Partner Text: 

Pakachere Institute for Health and Development Communication (IHDC), Xtra-Solutions, Soul City Institute for Health Communication, and funded by the Sweden and Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad)

See video

Email from Grace Kumwenda on June 9 2014 and Wize Up facebook page on June 12 2014.