In Zambia, Radio Programs Offer HIV Education

By Jane Coaston | July 29, 2013

Recording an episode of “Development Now” in Zambia. From left to right: Martin Phiri, Sue Gibbons, and Annie Chiluba, producer for Millennium Radio.

EGPAF

Though community radio stations only began broadcasting in Zambia in 1994, the medium has become the most popular way for Zambians to get news and information. The country ranks in the top 15 in terms of radio ownership in Africa.

“In Zambia, radio is still an effective means for information dissemination,” said Norman Chavula, project manager for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF) in Zambia.  “Almost every household has at least one radio set, and a majority of people listen to the radio in their homes, vehicles, on mobile phones, and in the office.”

To reach this wide audience and help Zambians learn more about HIV/AIDS, EGPAF is partnering with Millennium Radio’s new health and wellness program, “Development Now.” Host Annie Chiluba invited EGPAF to be a part of the program because it is one of the few organizations in Zambia that focuses on pediatric HIV and prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) services.
“One of our objectives is for EGPAF to promote early childhood development (ECD) and pediatric HIV/AIDS information throughout Zambia,” Chavula said. “So we thought that radio would be a good medium to help achieve this.”

Recent episodes of the programs featured Senior Technical Advisor Dr. Jack Menke, Nurse Midwife Helen Mwinga, Physiotherapist Prisca Kalyelye, Nurse Midwife Veronica Tembo, EGPAF Senior Technical Advisor Dr. Sue Gibbons, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer Brighton Nchimunya, and Project Officer of Child Development Martin Phiri. The shows have included discussions about PMTCT, early childhood development, and advice on how to provide emotional support to children living with HIV and their families. The entire second hour of the two-hour program is dedicated to questions from callers.

“The programs we participated in allowed radio hosts to mix English and local languages,” Chavula said, “and listeners were allowed to participate in any language, which enabled a wider participation.”
Thanks to the overwhelmingly positive response, EGPAF is planning 12 additional programs with Millennium Radio. Future topics include Option B+, adherence to HIV treatment, and HIV status disclosure.

“The feedback from the listeners was that the programs were educational,” Chavula said. “Most of the listeners were hearing the topics for the first time, and because they could phone in, they were able to get more information and clarification from the radio show hosts (and EGPAF staff).”

Jane Coaston is Media Relations Coordinator for the Foundation, based in Washington, D.C.