Empowering Women Through Radio: A Demand Driven Communication Strategy in Tanzania and Uganda
Maternal and newborn death and sever illness is tragically high in Uganda and Tanzania. There are many reasons for this. Less than 50% of all births are attended by skilled health professionals. Malaria in expectant mothers is a very common yet preventable cause of anemia and death for newborns and mothers. Failure to access the right care at the right time means that minor obstetric complications threaten the health and survival of mother and child. Governments are beginning to rise to these challenges by creating enabling policies and programs. However, to achieve a scalable impact on behavior and outcomes, innovative and cost-effective communication methods are needed to share knowledge, give voice, and provide practical information to expectant and new mothers and their families. Radio combined with the latest technology in voice based services (VBS) can meet this need on a very wide and affordable scale. Farm Radio International has developed and established the effectiveness of participatory radio strategies that help farmers adopt more productive farming practices. Our impactful and demand-driven approach to using radio and VBS for agricultural extension can be adapted and used to provide expectant and new mothers and their families with the interactive and empowering communication services they need. Participatory radio plus VBS can share knowledge and improve access to information, strengthen links between families, service providers and policy makers, contribute to a stronger voice for expectant mothers, and, ultimately, through new practices and behaviors, produce remarkable gains in maternal and newborn survival and health.