CIAM Public Health Research and Development Centre
Public Engagement to Promote Health
One of CIAM’s health promotion initiatives has been to use radio to deliver a nation-wide soap opera, Bolonghodala, a love story describing the struggles of ordinary people as they act on messages of malaria prevention, treatment and control. Following a national media survey on the reach of the radio series, we undertook a qualitative evaluation to gather the views and health practices of mothers and grandmothers (listeners and non-listeners to Bolonghadala). A full report is available from CIAM.
Based on the success of Bolonghodala, CIAM is working on a significant proposal to expand the reach of the programme to Senegal, Guinea Bissua, Guinea Conakry, Mali and Sierra Leone.
Promoting health messages is commonly seen as part of the role of public health professionals and NGOs. In The Gambia, Members of Parliament known as National Assembly Members are rarely involved. However, CIAM has recently formed a strong working relationship with parliamentarians. They are a powerful lobby group who can use their political influence to raise the profile of malaria and other public health problems in and out of parliament. By doing so, policies and funds can be made available to increase services to prevent and manage the impact of these diseases.
CIAM first started to work with parliamentarians in 2005 and has conducted workshops with them on topics including malaria advocacy as and ways to strengthen the capacity to use research in policy-making. The latter workshop was also offered to local and national journalists.