The chief executive officer of Development Media International (DMI), Roy Head, in a new report, has revealed how a radio message saved a girl’s life in Burkina Faso.
TheNewsGuru (TNG) reports Roy said DMI recently conducted a randomized controlled trial in Burkina Faso, which represents the first scientific trial to show mass media can change behaviours.
The trial, evaluated by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, measured the effects of a three-year radio campaign on treatment-seeking for three of the biggest killers of children under 5: malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea.
The evaluation measured the number of parents taking their children to health facilities and diagnosed by health workers. Year 1 saw a 56% increase in malaria consultations, 39% increase in pneumonia consultations and 73% increase in diarrhoea consultations in intervention zones compared to controls.
According to Roy, modelling using the lives saved tool showed that these behaviour changes corresponded to a mortality reduction of 9.7%.
“Approximately 3000 children’s lives were saved over the course of the campaign and an economic analysis showed that it was one of the most cost-effective ways of saving children’s lives,” he said.
Giving an instance the radio message saved a life, Roy said, “One of the children whose life was saved by the Burkina Faso campaign is called Mariéta. She fell seriously ill when she was one year old.
“It was only when [her father] heard a radio message explaining to parents how to recognise the symptoms of malaria and encouraging them to seek treatment, that [he] realised his daughter had severe malaria. He immediately sought medical help, as advised by the campaign.
“Mariéta made a full recovery and is now fondly known in her village as ‘child of the radio’”
He noted that the mass media is a fantastic tool for empowering people with knowledge to improve their own health.
“Until now, mass media has been on the periphery of public health, but our results suggest that it should be closer to the core.
“We’ve always known that mass media is one of the best ways of reaching millions of people at a time. We now know it works.
“For the first time, we have definitive evidence that mass media campaigns can be highly impactful and cost-effective when it comes to saving children’s lives,” Roy stated.