Doi Moi in Science!

"Doi Moi" means revolution in the Vietnamese language and refers to a period in history equivalent to Perestroika. The "Doi Moi in Science!" project was set up by Wellcome Trust Major Overseas Programme - Oxford University Clinical Research Unit Viet Nam (OUCRU-Vietnam) and funded through a Wellcome Trust International Engagement Award. The project aims to engage the Vietnamese public with science and to raise awareness about the research conducted at OUCRU Viet Nam.

Communication Strategies: 

The project involved three initiatives designed to bring science to the forefront of people's minds in an engaging and entertaining way through theatre productions, lively debate, and informed writing. Sharing knowledge with these groups was designed to develop an understanding of the value and need for scientific research.


I. Science Theatre:
In November 2009, the public engagement team of the OUCRU-Vietnam WT-MOP in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC), Vietnam, commenced work on the first stage of this public engagement in science project. The first endeavour was a children's theatre production, "An Amazing Battle", focusing on bacterial enteric diseases, hygiene, and antibiotic resistance. After the collaborating host institution, The Hospital for Tropical Diseases, approved the topics, pre-production work began. Thai Duong Theatre Company (a company with experience in children's theatre and potential for publicity) collaborated with the public engagement team, which worked to ensure scientific accuracy, as the two groups carried out: script-writing, set design, costume design, sound design, rehearsals, preliminary discussions with school principals, applications to the relevant Vietnamese authorities for approval of the script and permission to conduct the project, announcements to local media, and website construction.


Research scientists with OUCRU-Vietnam in HCMC provided the educational content for the show, and this formed the foundation of the story. Incorporating Vietnamese folklore characters such as Ong Dia, the round, happy God of the Earth who symbolises prosperity, and Thanh Giong, a mythological Vietnamese warrior, the public engagement team and Thai Duong Theatre developed what was intended to be an engaging story that creatively incorporates educational content in an accessible format for children. The story illuminates the causes and prevention of bacterial infection and cultivates awareness about antibiotic resistance. When a young boy discovers Ong Dia has fallen ill, he and Thanh Giong use magical powers to become microscopic and travel into the abyss of Ong Dia's round belly to uncover the mystery of his ailment. With the help of an extremely meticulous doctor and a friendly bacterium, the child and Thanh Giong learn about the sources and prevention of bacterial infection, as well as the accurate and safe treatment method.


Actors who are locally well-known through popular children's television shows took part in the production. This provided an opportunity to enhance media coverage and foster engagement of the children. In total, there were 4 primary actors, 3 secondary actors, and 2 sound technicians. The show is interactive. Children explore an "Amazing Battle" printed booklet before the show begins. The show starts with a warm-up competition between the boys' team and the girls' team to discover "who has better hygiene habits - boys or girls?"


A media conference was held at Highlands Cafe in District One, HCMC, on March 9 2010. The public engagement team hosted a journalist conference prior to the first performance. The conference was attended by 12 journalists: 10 from Vietnamese newspapers and 2 foreign journalists from local English-language magazines. The press received an approved media release document and further information about the WT-MOP at the conference. A question and answer session was conducted to clarify the aims of the project and activities of the OUCRU. The first production for the Board of Education and Media followed the media conference at Tran Cao Van Theatre, HCMC.


The journalist conference was followed immediately by the first performance of the show at Tran Cao Van Theatre in District One, HCMC. Local journalists and representatives from 27 primary schools and 3 delegates from the Department of Education were invited to attend the first performance. All school representatives received an information packet which included the press release, proposed timetables of school productions, and information about the project.  Following the show, the public engagement team, the school representatives, and the members from the Board of Education met in the theatre. At this time, schools were able to inquire about the project and discuss ideas and suggestions. The public engagement team received permission from the Board of Education and the Board of Health, which enabled school performances to commence.


School productions of An Amazing Battle were performed 31 times in 28 public schools and several other institutions, including non-governmental organisation (NGO) projects for disadvantaged children, in HCMC from April-May 2010. It was viewed by over 25,000 students in schools throughout HCMC and, according to organisers, received extensive positive feedback from the children and school principals, in addition to media coverage in the local press and on television (The project was featured in over 20 Vietnamese newspapers and magazines, as well as a local English-language publication. Two local TV stations also broadcast enthusiastic features on the project.)


In the second year of the project (2011), An Amazing Battle focused on reaching children in remote areas of the Mekong Delta and on disadvantaged children in suburb districts of HCMC. Nine young potential actors of the "Smile Puppet" group took part in the production instead of well-known actors. It was performed in 17 public schools, 2 hospitals in provinces around the Mekong Delta, and 3 cultural centres in Long An, Dong Thap, Tien Giang, and Vinh Long provinces, and in the rural city district of Cu Chi. An estimated 15,000 children and parents attended these shows.


In 2012, OUCRU-Vietnam was awarded a three year grant from Sanofi Espoir Foundation to continue the project. The organisers continued to work with Thai Duong Theatre Company and presented 20 live theatre shows in 20 schools in the rural delta province of Ben Tre. In total, over 11,330 children watched the shows. OUCRU-Vietnam negotiated a contract with VTV9 TV channel to film the show, which aired on national TV twice. It was also recorded onto DVD; 1,000 copies were made and distributed. Using the DVD, three more events were held at local paediatric hospitals and a school for handicapped children. The shows started with a song, games, and a short talk from a doctor. The children watched the show on a big screen and then were presented with gifts of a bar of soap and snacks. 500 children attended the 3 DVD shows. This project will continue for another two years with SEF funding.


II. Science Cafe
Cafe Khoa Hoc is a venue for a cup of coffee or soft drink where people can debate science issues in a non-academic environment. It is designed to be a friendly forum for people to get insights into questions they may otherwise not consider and to share their ideas about the latest or the most burning modern science- and health-related issues in a deeper manner. The first science café on Bioethics in Clinical Research was organised at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in March 2011. It was attended by 55 students, 5 university representatives, 7 journalists, and 1 TV reporter.


III. Workshops
Designed for science journalists and scientists who interact with the media, there have been two sets of workshops. One took place July 7-13 2011. Goals included: providing skills and updated knowledge in communicating science to the public for science journalists; providing solutions for science journalists to overcome barriers in their work; providing skills and knowledge of communicating science to the general public for scientists; and bridging the gap between scientists and science journalists.

Development Issues: 

Children, Youth, Health.

Key Points: 

In order to assess the impact of An Amazing Battle (the 2010 performances), the public engagement team distributed pre-show and post-show surveys. The pre-show survey was distributed to over 332 students (10-11 years old) in 7 schools (Tran Binh Trong, Luong The Vinh, Nguyen Du, Dong Hoa, Han Hai Nguyen, Phu Lam, and Hoa Hiep) who would later view the production. Following the performance, children who viewed the performance were asked to complete the post-show survey in order to measure their acquisition of the educational points in the show. Randomised cluster sampling was used to select 402 responses for evaluation. Very little difference existed between the number of correct answers in the pre-show and post-show groups.


Comments from the 2011 show include: Mr. Luu Thanh Cong, Director of Department of Education and Training of Vinh Long province, who called An Amazing Battle "an engaging educational programme which brings knowledge to students in an effective way." Le Thi Trang, the vice-principal at Phu Lam School in District 6, said: "The play makes it easier to understand and remember the issues surrounding bacterial infections."

Partner Text: 

OUCRU with Wellcome Trust funding. The science theatre aspect as carried out in 2012 was funded by the Sanofi Espoir Foundation.


"International Engagement Awards: Projects funded in 2010" [PDF], accessed on November 29 2012; and emails from Mary Chambers to The Communication Initiative on November 28 2012 and December 2 2012.

Twins Engage in Research through Culture

This project involved a competition to produce a diversity of cultural activities (art, drama, prose, short movies, etc.) culminating in a cultural exhibition with the theme of twins/multiples and health research. The purpose was to strategically introduce young twins/multiples and their families to the Sri Lankan Twin Registry (SLTR) and Multiple Birth Foundation (MBF). It sought to explore the priorities and concerns of participants in health research, as well as the real and perceived barriers and factors influencing participation.

Communication Strategies: 

The initiative used cultural activities and dialogue in an effort to encourage twins to contemplate participating in health research and to increase the membership of the SLTR. The approach to engaging a cohort for scientific research involved reaching out to young twins - even though SLTR's research participants are adult twins. The idea was that, through cultural activities centred around the participation of young twins, adult twins would also be reached. Participants of all ages were encouraged to establish a dialogue on the contribution by twins on health research and how to utilise that knowledge for service development.


Specifically, SLTR began by organising a competition among young twins in dancing, singing, drawing, essay writing, etc. With the theme "art for scientific research", the competition took place at NCEF Buddhist school at Angoda on December 15 2009. Then, in February, the cultural festival featuring the winners of this competition was held. It featured live performance (for example, dance), debate/discussion, an exhibition, and a seminar/workshop. Because adult twins were included, these activities were designed to give them space to interact, as well as to provide an opportunity for young twins to show their talent.


According to SLTR, the participating twins showed interest in twining and in learning about scientific aspects of twining. Organisers encouraged advanced-level students to do school projects about twins; 36 projects were carried out.

Development Issues: 

Health, Youth

Key Points: 

SLTR is an independent academic and research institution founded with the aim of establishing a register for twins in Sri Lanka to facilitate study of twins. SLTR now functions under Institute of Research & Development (IRD). It started as a volunteer twin register in 1996. In 2003, SLTR started building a population-based twin register for the Colombo district. The Wellcome-Trust-funded Colombo Twin & Singleton Survey (COTASS) was carried out among randomly selected twins from this population-based twin register; it was completed in 2008. The COTASS follow-up study (started in 2012) was planned to follow these twins and singletons with same mental health parameters with additional metabolic parameters that includes blood tests - making it a cohort. After finishing COTASS, SLTR contemplated how to engage these twins further. In the late 1990s, there was a twin cultural group headed by two monozygotic female twins that was very successful and attracted lot of attention from twins in Sri Lanka. They mainly specialised in performance arts and had a popular dance troupe that appeared in TV. In early 2000, they faded away, but they provided the inspiration for this project to engage twins through cultural activities.


In addition to seeing a spike in SLTR membership, organisers say that the most significant achievement was to keep the twins in the COTASS cohort anchored and engaged between two waves of data collection. They also updated, cleaned, and amalgamated the multiple databases containing information about twins to create two master databases: population-based and volunteer. During the first and second waves of data collection, there was an expansion of telephone coverage from 15% of the population to about 105% - meaning that telephone numbers were updated, and this process continues even now.


This project is being carried on as a part of COTASS: SLTR has sent newsletters to twins about their latest research activities and is also hosting regular events such as regional meetings.

Partner Text: 

Funded by the Wellcome Trust

Contact Information: 

"International Engagement Awards: Projects Funded in 2011" [PDF]; email from Sisira Siribaddana to The Communication Initiative on September 27 2012 and October 9 2012; and SLTR website, September 28 2012.

The Museum of the Person: A Global Network for Life Stories

"The memories of myself helped me to grasp the plots I was involved with." Paulo Freire

The Museum of the Person is a global network that links individuals and groups through authoring and sharing their life stories. Museum projects are located in Brazil, Portugal, the United States, and Canada, with online archives available for each national museum. According to the project organiser, the goal of collecting personal memories through life stories is to ensure a more just and democratised world.

Communication Strategies: 

The Museum of the Person network is based on using the methodology of collected life stories with authorship by the subjects/participants. The network encourages interested individuals, groups, organisations, corporations, and governmental sectors to consider developing an autonomous "Museum" to expand the global network.


Sites linked to each other and to a global internet portal include: the Museu da Pessoa (no longer online) based in São Paulo, Brasil, the Musée de la Personne, the Center for Digital Storytelling, the Museum of the Person in the United States, and the International Day of Sharing Life Stories.

For example, the Museu da Pessoa has developed a method for collecting and systematising personal testimonies and stories and has carried out numerous projects in the areas of business, memory, education, culture, and community development.


Dissemination of stories includes the following:

  • "Publications: books, biographies, daily planners and almanacs
  • Videos: documentaries and institutional videos
  • Internet: virtual environments for projects, museums, and virtual reference centers
  • Exhibitions
  • Memory centers
  • CD-ROMS: data banks for reference
  • Organization of collections: historical and museum collections for companies and institutions
  • Workshops, seminars and training programs
  • Booths for recording personal stories"


The Museu da Pessoa uses the São Paulo’s subway system as a recurrent place in the city where Museum of the Person recording booths are installed. A travelling museum has a mini-mobile studio equipped with digital video and audio recorders. Exhibitions have included: "Memory of neighborhoods - São Paulo on the tracks of time: Brás, Liberdade and Itaquera", with a publication on memories of commercial businesses in the Paraíba Valley region. "Program Local Memory" is a project aimed at allowing school and communities to make their own history. Community leadership training and training of teachers and paedagogy coordinators prepare schools and communities for collection and display of local memory-related archives.

Development Issues: 


Key Points: 

The network organisers state: "The members of the global network believe that:

  • Every life story has value and should be part of social memory.
  • Listening to others is a way to offer respect and act as a peer.
  • Every person plays a role as an agent of historical change and an author of history.
  • Memory is an instrument for social and cultural development
  • Understanding through exchange will lead to peace."
The Museum of the Person

Museu da Pessoa website, July 20 2012, and email from Philip Stafford to The Communication Initiative on July 20 2012.

Creative Arts for Youth HIV/AIDS Prevention - Music and Comics in Chamanculo

Using music and comics, Community Media for Development (CMFD) Productions, together with music group Sigauque Project, are implementing the project Creative Arts for Youth HIV/AIDS Prevention - Music and Comics in Chamanculo in Maputo, Mozambique. Launched in January 2012, the objective of the project is to promote HIV/AIDS awareness among the youth, while changing attitudes towards protection and preventative methods.

Communication Strategies: 

A series of 12 wall posters are being produced, each addressing a different theme related to HIV awareness and prevention. Over 12 weeks, one comic poster per week will be posted in public spaces such as markets, schools, and drinking spots. According to CMFD Productions, wall comics were chosen as a strategy because unlike comic books, which a person is more likely to read alone, wall comics posted in public places tend to be read by groups of people, thus encouraging community dialogue as people react to and discuss the stories they read or the images they see.

To ensure relevance and appeal, CMFD held workshops with groups of youth in Maputo to help them outline the different situations, major and otherwise, that had to do with sexual awareness and vulnerability in their society. The workshops identified several key topics for the project to address:

  • No means no – sexual violence
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Countering stigma
  • Coping with peer pressure
  • Prevention – using condoms
  • Prevention – girls responses to persuasion
  • Dangers of transactional sex
  • Getting tested
  • Multiple concurrent partnerships as a risk

For the music component of the project, CMFD worked with local band Sigauque Project to produce two songs about HIV/AIDS. These songs will be the focus of a concert in Chamanculo, and will then be distributed to radio stations. A community concert was chosen to launch the new songs and the youth comic campaign as this will also provide an additional opportunity to communicate HIV messages and distribute information provided by local partner organisations.

Development Issues: 


Key Points: 

With an estimated population of 800,000 residents, Chamanculo is one of the most densely populated areas in Mozambique. As Mozambique’s overall population is comprised of over 50% youth, it is likely that that there are over 400,000 youth in Chamanculo. While the proposed concert and media outreach was relevant and raised awareness among all age groups, the key target group was young people aged 15 – 25, both male and female. Poverty, gender inequality, high crime and violence, and alcohol abuse all combine to encourage risky behaviour among Chamanculo youth. Early and unintended pregnancies are widespread, and although most youth in this urban area are aware of HIV/AIDS and protection methods, changing attitudes and behaviours was still a challenge. Gender inequality, transactional or survival sex, and high rates of gender violence make young women especially vulnerable, which is why, according to CMFD, there was such a desperate need for such a project.

With this information in mind, this intervention is designed to result in:

  • increased awareness and information about HIV prevention and services available;
  • increased dialogue among youth, as well as the community at large, about HIV as well as harmful norms, habits, and attitudes;
  • new perspectives and understanding among youth and the community about how such factors, as well as GBV and alcohol, encourage risky behaviours;
  • greater awareness among young women about the risks specific to them, and their own ability to prevent HIV; and
  • a sense of pride among youth and the community about media generated by this community, for this community.
Partner Text: 

Community Media for Development (CMFD) Productions, Sigauque Project, US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR)


CMFD website on May 12 2012.

President's Malaria Initiative in Liberia

The President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), in partnership with the United Sates Agency for International Development (USAID and the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), is working to reduce malaria related morbidity and mortality by 50% in Liberia by 2012, focusing on reaching pregnant women and children under 5 years of age with lifesaving services, supplies, and medicines.

Communication Strategies: 

The PMI’s project focuses on preventing malaria through four interventions, namely the distribution of insecticide-treated nets (ITN), supporting indoor-residual spraying (IRS), and making rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) and malaria medication available. By increasing the use and accessibility of insecticide-treated nets and malaria-preventative medication in pregnant women, PMI hopes to decrease mortality rates. In addition, activities that aim to increase skills, knowledge, and awareness of the disease are designed to help curb the growing number of malaria-related problems.

To support these approaches, capacity building activities included training 2067 mid-level health care workers, community health volunteers (CHV), and traditional midwives in malaria case management and malaria in pregnancy. They were also given the skills to do malaria education which included behavioural change communication messages. One of the topics covered in the training was the importance of educating patients on early treatment seeking behaviour and intermittent preventative treatment in pregnancy (IPTP).

PMI also supports the promotion of malaria prevention and control interventions through mobilising schools, communities, local and international NGOs, leaders of all kinds, and faith-based organisations, such as churches. Through the malaria community programme (MCP), PMI has also partnered up with the MENTOR Initiative to promote community awareness of malaria. This has included developing community-based malaria groups who work together to develop dramas, songs, and posters. Cultural troops in the community performed dramas, and recorded them as radio and television/video programmes. Songs have played on local and national radio stations and the posters created were displayed in key areas such as health facilities, schools, and public meeting areas.

Development Issues: 


Key Points: 

According to PMI, the malaria crisis in Liberia is quite severe; it is the primary cause of morbidity and mortality in the country, contributing to 38% of outpatient consultations. A malaria indicator survey (MIS) in 2008-2009 showed that the malaria parasite was found in 32% of blood slides taken from children 6 months to 5-years old. The objective of this initiative is to reduce the malaria-related morbidity and mortality rates by reaching 85% of the affected areas, particularly pregnant women and children under the age of five.

In 2009, 480,000 ITNs were procured and distributed for free through door to door and antenatal care campaigns in three counties – Nimba, Grand Bassa and Lofa – reaching an estimated 700,000 people. ITN ownership increased from 18% to 60% between 2005 and 2009. However, PMI found that only about half the people who own nets use them on a regular basis, suggesting that a lot of work needs to be done to promote regular mosquito net usage.

Partner Text: 

USAID, Centre for Disease Control (CDC), John Snow International, RTI International, Medical Care Development International, EQUIP, MENTOR Initiative, Macro, Medical Centre Development, Management Science for Health Inc., US Pharmacopeia Convention


USAID website on April 24 2012 and The Mentor Initiative website on April 24 2012.

The Gender Roles, Equality and Transformations (GREAT) Project

The Gender Roles, Equality and Transformations (GREAT) Project, led by Georgetown University’s Institute for Reproductive Health in collaboration with partners Pathfinder International and Save the Children, is working to improve gender equity and reproductive health in Northern Uganda.

Communication Strategies: 

In the first phase of the project, 40 life history interviews with adolescents and 40 in-depth interviews with adults who significantly influence adolescents were conducted to provide a contextualised understanding of how gender norms and attitudes are formed, what these norms and attitudes are, and how they are related to sexual reproductive health (SRH) and gender-based violence (GBV). Findings from the ethnographic research showed that cultural norms, influence on gender-related expectations and norms, and talk about gender roles required a serious intervention to change the set ideals and give way to safer social norms. The findings also showed that there was a lack of knowledge of sexual reproductive health and a culture of violence that needed redress. These issues are the focus of GREAT.


The first phase also included a programme review to identify evidence-based approaches and promising interventions to address adolescent SRH, gender norms, and GBV, which have the potential to be adapted in Northern Uganda. The key findings from the 61 successful projects found in the programme review are organised according to three topic areas, namely programme design, gender and violence, and scale-up. The results and principles distilled from the programme review informed the design and implementation of pilot interventions in the second phase.


Drama and toolkit

According to the GREAT project organisers, programmes that work with adolescents on issues related to sexuality and gender should use approaches that account for different stages of cognitive development and the diversity of adolescent experiences. Programmes should employ age and life-stage tailored activities and use specific tailored materials and curricula. The GREAT project is using radio drama to catalyse discussion and change. The drama is designed to present a nuanced and intergenerational story, pose challenging dilemmas, and generate reflection, questions, and dialogue among listeners. The story line incorporates key lessons from the formative research, such as the value of addressing the concept of rebuilding community and revitalising culture in a more gender-equitable way.


The GREAT Project partners also developed a "Toolkit of Scalable Products [see related summaries]" which uses the same characters and themes as the radio drama, linking the two. The toolkit was rolled-out among small groups of adolescents in platforms common across Northern Uganda. As the foundation of these efforts is community mobilisation, the momentum around the radio drama and small group reflection is reinforced by collaboration with community, religious, and clan leaders. The project utilises a participatory process to engage key community and cultural leaders in generating change.


The review identified programmes that can be expanded through existing structures, such as public sector health services, schools, Girl Scouts/Guides, religious groups, and sports teams. By integrating interventions into platforms that exist across communities, districts, and countries, programmes can increase their usability, and scalability and ability to be replicated. This recommendation has been applied in designing the project's interventions, which will build on existing structures in the communities of Northern Uganda.

Development Issues: 

Sexual reproductive health, gender-based violence, gender roles

Key Points: 

Research conducted by GREAT showed that there is a lack of knowledge when it comes to gender-related issues and sexual reproductive health. Other key findings which were considered in the design of the project were the following:

  • Communities in the aftermath of social disruption and violence are striving to rebuild cultural and family structures, many of which socialise youth into adult roles as productive community members.
  • Mothers, peers, elders, and neighbours were identified as influential in shaping gendered attitudes and behaviours in children and adolescents.
  • Boys and girls reported feeling embarrassed or being teased by peers for bodily changes during puberty. As a result, they preferred talking about puberty with adults rather than peers.
  • Study participants of all ages and sexes described an "ideal" man as one who protects and provides for his family. Likewise, participants agreed that an "ideal woman" is obedient and nurturing.
  • Study participants reported that contraceptive use was infrequent in their communities, citing lack of male partner support, perceived negative side effects, and concern that use will cause marital discord.
  • Participants reported that multiple forms of violence (verbal, emotional, physical and sexual) were common, and often linked to alcohol abuse. Violence is viewed as unacceptable or questionable when its primary purpose is not to teach or discipline, and when it is excessive, uncontrolled, or causes physical harm.
Partner Text: 

Georgetown University’s Institute for Reproductive Health, Pathfinders International, Save the Children


Great Project website on April 20 2012.

Brisons le Silence (Break the Silence)

In March 2012, the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), launched Brisons le Silence (Break the Silence), a nationwide social marketing campaign to combat violence against women and girls, including domestic violence, in Cote d’Ivoire . The campaign uses social norms marketing to encourage the reporting of conjugal and partner violence, as well as the support of survivors. The campaign is designed to promote equitable gender norms and positive attitudes toward women and coordinated by the Gender Based Violence Coordinator, Monika Bakayoko-Topolska.

Communication Strategies: 

According to social marketing research, as cited by as Monika Bakayoko-Topolska, who oversees the IRC women's programmes in Côte d'Ivoire, the kind of campaign created by the IRC can have a profound effect on attitudes and behaviour related to gender norms and violence against women. Social marketing campaigns use traditional commercial marketing techniques to affect behaviour and attitudes related to social problems.


The audiences for the campaign include men ages 18-35 and housewives of the same age bracket. The messages address both action and social norms for each group:


For the men:


1) Nous sommes une équipe contre la violence. (We are a team against violence.)
2) Protéger les femmes, c’est aussi notre affaire! (Protect women, it is also our business.)


For the women:
1) Brave femme, lève-toi contre les violences! (Brave woman, stand up against violence!)
2) Chez nous, la violence n’a pas sa place! (There is no place for violence in our home!)


Several national artists and celebrities are participating in the campaign, including the Ivoirian soccer star Kolo Habib Touré and his wife, Hip Hop stars Nash and DJ Mix, Reggae star Kajeem, and actresses Akissi Delta and Marie Louise Asseu. Protestant, Catholic, and Muslim leaders are also acting as spokespersons for the campaign.


Activities include:
A launch event at the Palace of Culture in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire. The event included a drama on the theme of domestic violence, comments from partners, a testimonial from a survivor, and a performance of the original campaign theme song by participating artists.


The campaign includes: radio and TV public service announcements (PSA's); radio scenarios and news stories; Facebook and Twitter messaging; mobile phone messaging; posters; billboards; localised information via information calendars; a free hotline for survivors and assisters; and t-shirts and bracelets.

Development Issues: 

Gender Based Violence.

Key Points: 

Click here to view the TV spots on the IRC's Break the Silence YouTube channel. 


Click here to access the campaign's Facebook page.



Brisons le Silence (Break the Silence)
Partner Text: 

Funding from: The World Bank; the Novo Foundation; Moov, a telecommunications company; and Sotra, Abidjan’s municipal bus company.


Email from Virginia A. Williams to The Communication Initiative on January 13 and April 21 2012; and The Blog section of The Huffington Post website of March 27 2012, accessed on April 19 2012.

GoodLife Campaign Ghana

Officially launched in November 2010, the GoodLife Campaign in Ghana is a multimedia campaign encouraging reflection about what makes life "good", linking personal happiness to the practice of healthy behaviours related to: maternal neonatal and child health; family planning; malaria prevention and treatment; nutrition; and water, sanitation and hygiene.

Communication Strategies: 

At the centre of the campaign is the GoodLife Game Show, designed to move health messages beyond instructive commands to engaging people on issues relevant to their own daily lives. Contestants on the show are posed challenges, answer questions, and participate in skills-building games based on particular health issues. The campaign also uses well known Ghanaians to get the messages across, including stand up comedian Kweku Sintim-Misa and Hip-life music artist, Nana Boro.

The project is being implemented in three phases:

Phase 1, which ran from 9 to 26 November 2010, was a teaser campaign to generate discussion around the question 'what is your good life?' This phase used different multimedia approaches to attract the intended audience's interest:

  • TV and radio spots - spots around six characters, a hair dresser, a taxi driver, a footballer, a farmer, business man, and a seller.
  • posters
  • buzz cards
  • t-shirts
  • SMS (text) messages

Along with multi-media, there were also community activities in the form of Community Storming Teams, who engaged people in discussion and handed out flyers and buzz cards.

The 2nd phase, which ran from November 2010 to February 2011, was the brand positioning campaign. The messages focused on health in general, laying the foundation for people to want to seek out and practice disease prevention. Multi-media used included the following:

  • television and radio spots - the same 6 characters as in phase one depicted what would happen to their good life if they became ill;
  • a good life song;
  • music video;
  • billboards; and
  • a music concert

At health facility and community level, the project used posters, flyers, banners, wall paintings, and health volunteer activities, as well as health reference materials and community mobilisation manuals.

The main phase has been running from January 2011 and focuses on:

  • specific health messages;
  • strengthening the good life brand; and
  • broadening participation with other organisations in public and private sector.

The campaign also offered a GoodLife website which featured information about the different health issues addressed by the campaign, as well as campaign resources.

As part of the overarching GoodLife campaign, in June 2011, the Behaviour Change Support (BCS) Project and ProMPT, in partnership with the National Malaria Control Programme and the Ghana Health Service, launched the new "Aha ye de" malaria campaign. "Aha ye de" means "It’s Good Here" in Twi, one of Ghana’s national languages. The campaign is designed to reposition the use of treated nets as a lifestyle decision, while at the same time preventing malaria. The campaign seeks to increase risk perception by emphasiding the severity and threats of malaria. At the same time, the campaign empowers individuals to use malaria prevention and appropriate treatment. (see Related Summary below for "Aha ye de" campaign materials .)

Development Issues: 

Maternal Neonatal and Child Health, Family planning, Malaria prevention and treatment, Nutrition, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Partner Text: 

United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (JHU/CCP), CARE, PLAN International, and the Ministry of Health, the Ghana Health Service (GHS).

See video

Good Life website and JHU/CCP website on February 27 2012.

Malaria Control in Cameroon

Between 2009 and 2011 the Fobang Foundation (FF) ran a programme in Cameroon to promote malaria prevention by explaining the biological basis of the disease and educating the population on better control methods. The programme worked at the national and policy level to improve information collection and dissemination, and at the grassroots level to promote awareness and action through comics, radio, schools clubs, theatre, and a vocational centre.

Communication Strategies: 

According to the Fobang Foundation, in 2006, it became clear that Plasmodium falciparum was resistant to amodiaquine and that the Anopheles mosquito was resistant to pyrethroids. In 2007, the National Malaria Control Programme (NMCP) decided to reorient towards greater community participation in order to mitigate the difficulties it was having scaling up its interventions with insecticide-treated mosquito nets, the intermittent preventive treatment (IPT) of pregnant women with sulfadoxine pyrimethamine (SP), and the use of Artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). According to FF there was also a general lack of information or the information that is disseminated is not culturally relevant.

At the national and policy level the programme coordinated a biennial Malaria Report for Cameroon by helping the National Malaria Control Programme develop questionnaires, collect and analyse information from the provinces, and monitor sites and organisations involved in malaria prevention. To promote effective malaria prevention in communities, the programme adapted training kits to educate at-risk groups, and conducted community-based awareness and prevention activities. The key activities were as follows:


  • Research and capacity build-up - FF worked with the 'National Malaria Control Programme' (NMCP) and the Cameroon Coalition Against Malaria (CCAM) to gather information in order to create a complete picture of the malaria situation in Cameroon. This included malaria indicators in a number of important regions (in North-West, South-West and Central Cameroon as well as in the Adamawa regions). The focus was on children under five and pregnant women.
  • Cultural health education - FF produced a malaria manual and co-sponsored the biweekly report 'About Malaria’, which also contains a comic strip on preventing malaria. The Radio Health International project enabled information about malaria to be broadcast over the radio.
  • School Health Clubs (SHC) - School health clubs received sponsoring for project activities that are part of the Community Outreach Malaria and HIV Prevention programme. On average, each club has 50 active members, and about 10 clubs are involved.
  • Theatre – The theatrical play Wabu (the Malian word for malaria) is about the dilemma of traditional African and Western approaches to the treatment of fever and malaria. Wabu was also made into a documentary and translated into French and Pidgin.
  • Vocational and hope centre - The vocational and hope centre focused on activities related to the production of insecticide-treated mosquito nets, 1,500 mosquito nets were distributed through the school health clubs.
  • The Malaria Control in Cameroon programme operated in parallel with an HIV/AIDS project funded by the Dutch Albert Schweitzer Foundation (NASF), which Fobang Foundation says helped to reduce costs and duplication.

Development Issues: 


Key Points: 

FF faced some challenges in the implementation of the project which meant that some objectives were delayed or needed extra funding. The organisation says they have learned to make its projects less ambitious. According to FF, it is better to achieve good results in small steps over several years, than to start a lot of activities that produce little to no result at all.

Partner Text: 

Fobang Foundation, Malaria No More Nederland


Malaria No More website on February 11 2012.

The Vietnam Handwashing Initiative

Created by the World Bank's Water and Sanitation Program (WSP), the Vietnam Handwashing Initiative aims to reduce disease and mortality through a behaviour change communication (BCC) programme to promote handwashing with soap among caretakers of children under 5 and among primary school children aged 6-10 years. The initiative includes both: (i) a national mass media campaign geared toward children, and (ii) a school-based interpersonal communication activities campaign. It aims to ensure that semi-urban and rural schoolchildren will:

Communication Strategies: 

Campaign development started with formative research conducted in July 2008 amongst children in 6 primary schools from 3 provinces to represent northern, central, and southern regions of Vietnam; in each province, one peri-urban and one rural area were chosen. Research methods included:

  • Family structure diagrams were developed by each child to learn about the social relationships within the child's household and how those relationships might affect children's ability to wash hands with soap. This method used pictures where the child (shown at the centre of the paper) drew lines to the person in the home they were closest to, spent the most time with, feared most, and so on.
  • Daily diaries were used to learn about what children do from morning to evening. Drawings of two clocks (one for morning, one for afternoon/evening hours) were used for children to fill in activities that they did for each hour(s) per day. This was done as a group exercise.
  • A series of Motivation Pictures showing various handwashing scenes were presented to children and they were asked to tell a story based on how they interpreted the pictures. The objective was to understand the emotional driver for washing hands such as disgust, morality, shame, regret, and so on.
  • Students were asked to name their favourite role models, the reasons for their admiration and to list the careers they wanted.
  • Belief interviews were conducted with individual students to understand what children believe are the benefits to washing hands with soap, the causes of diarrhoea, and so on.
  • In-depth interviews and focus group discussions with headmasters and teachers were carried out to understand the school's organisation.
  • Direct observations were made of water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities in both schools and homes to understand access and availability of water and soap.

Amongst the findings: a leading motivator for handwashing with soap is the desire to prevent others from getting sick (especially younger brothers and sisters). This and other findings were incorporated into a behavior change communication (BCC) campaign for children, launched in August 2009, using the theme "pride of the family". Handwashing with soap was positioned as an easy, fun, and smart behaviour with a tagline of "Wash your hands with soap for your own health and the health of others around you". WSP supported its partners to work with an advertising agency to develop a programme using an entertainment/education approach that was designed to generate interest and enthusiasm while promoting the practice of handwashing with soap. As a result, a campaign with colourful, attractive, and positive characters was developed around a superhero that gets special powers by handwashing with soap in order to help his family and others.


Rather than a top-down education approach, the campaign combined mass media and interpersonal communications activities. A series of 10 cartoon strips was printed in the weekly national children's "Youth" magazine beginning in September 2009. These were made into animated cartoons shown on the nightly children's television show "Goodnight Baby" beginning in March 2010. In addition, children's games were modified for use in schools along with singing of the "Five Clean Fingers" song used in the programme for mothers and grandmothers. A set of guidelines and an instructional DVD were made for training teachers about how to play the games as an addition to existing lessons on handwashing with soap. Each school within the programme areas will carry out 5 extracurricular activities throughout the year, including participating in a national handwashing drawing contest through the "Youth" magazine.

Development Issues: 

Children, Health.

Key Points: 

Vietnam is one of 4 countries within the WSP's Global Scaling-Up Handwashing Project (funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation), which focuses on learning how to apply innovative promotional approaches to behaviour change to generate widespread and sustained improvements in handwashing with soap at scale among women of reproductive age (ages 15-49) and primary school-aged children (ages 5-9). Other countries include Peru, Senegal, and Tanzania.


Over 10,000 students have been reached thus far through the school programme, and an estimated 630,000 children have been reached via the mass media programme. Lessons learned so far include:

  • The consumer research state is crucial in developing a BCC campaign, as findings are very important for identifying the factors that determine behaviour and are used to make the campaign objectives.
  • Research tools need to be developed that can uncover the individual, family, and larger society factors that may help or stop people from washing hands with soap.
  • The normal research tools used with adults such as focus group discussion and in-depth interviews may not give enough useful insight needed as many children easily get bored with questions and are easily influenced by the responses of their friends. Thus, research activities need to be varied, participatory, and fun. Children should be allowed to take the lead. Pictures are a useful and easy way to get information and start discussion.
  • During brainstorming activities, it may be better to ask children to list only their top 3 choices rather than listing all of their ideas.
  • During pretesting, it is crucial to test at least 2 different campaign ideas; this ensures that audiences are provided a chance to respond to alternative concepts rather than only making comments on variations of the same concept. In this case, the campaign was tested with 2 different characters: a cartoon rabbit character and a more realistic rural school boy, Bi, who becomes a superhero. The character of Bi was more acceptable to children, and was further refined and pretested again several times before the final production. Ideally, there should be at least 2 rounds of pretesting.
  • Research and pretesting should be done by an experienced person who has worked with children before and who can turn the discussion into an activity or game to help keep the children's attention.
  • Timing is crucial. Start early when children are attentive and alert. Limit each group activity to one hour including a short break.
  • "The advertising agency was given the results of the children's research, as well as guidelines. However the agency did not use these fully. Although the creative ideas looked good, WSP and its partners often had to supervise closely so that the creative ideas reflected the research findings."
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