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Epidemics, Digital Media and Health Communications in Africa

When health crises occur, communication between citizens and healthcare professionals often fails. We know that ensuring communication is an imperative during a crisis, but communication cannot be just one-way, with communities only on the receiving end of public health advice. People need to be able to speak back to health care professionals to share their own knowledge about health systems and disease.

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radio station in Cape Verde

New solutions are possible with digital media. These solutions are rapidly deployable, flexible, locally relevant, and inclusive of diverse linguistic landscapes. This is our challenge: to help ameliorate health crises by opening crucial two-way communication lines between knowledgeable populations and those who would provide a well developed and informed response.

Epidemics, Digital Media and Health Communications in Africa is an 18-month research and evaluation project funded by The Wellcome Trust and the Department for International Development (DFID) to better understand – and concurrently evaluate – the validity, reliability and scalability of using local language community radio and interactive SMS messaging as a two-way communications platform for rapid citizen-centered research and communications.

With project sites in Cape Verde and Mozambique, we are working with local and international health and media actors to develop and evaluate interactive radio programming. Together, we advance a combination of digital citizen generated data, social science methods, and advanced data analysis techniques, to rapidly include the everyday challenges of individuals and communities into public health knowledge systems.

Our effort takes seriously the dynamic sociocultural and structural contexts that shape how people make decisions about their and their families’ health. Our purpose-designed interactive radio programming accounts for potential uncertainty and is flexible enough to absorb and recalibrate in response to the systemic disruptions caused by health crises.

 

Funded by

DFID LogoWellcome Trust Logo