Learn how we use evidence-based behaviour change campaigns to improve and save lives in low-income countries.
Learn about how DMI brings together two different worlds: demonstrable scientific practice and creative storytelling.
Location Child survival
Our objective for this campaign was to cost-effectively save children’s lives by reducing the number of children dying from malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea. To do this, we expanded our successful, evidence-based child survival campaign from a regional to national level in Burkina Faso. Modelling suggests that this campaign could save the lives of approximately 3,300 children under 5.
Child survival – encouraging parents to seek treatment for children with symptoms of malaria, pneumonia or diarrhoea, encouraging antenatal care attendance and promoting breastfeeding.
31 existing and 46 new radio spots, all of which were produced in up to 10 languages, bringing the total number of spots produced to over 630. We also produced interactive radio programmes to complement these spots.
Our radio campaign was broadcast from October 2019 to September 2021 on 33 radio stations in Burkina Faso.
16.7 million people
We conducted a randomised controlled trial (RCT) which demonstrated that mass media campaigns can increase life-saving treatment-seeking behaviours for children with symptoms of malaria, pneumonia or diarrhoea. Modelling suggested that a national scale up of the tested radio campaign would save an estimated 3,300 lives and would be a highly cost-effective way of saving lives – at $602 USD per life saved. This is what we set out to do.
In 2020, we ran focus group discussions with families in different regions of Burkina Faso to understand the barriers to care-seeking for malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea, as well as maternal health, nutrition and sanitation and hygiene behaviours. A widespread barrier to behaviour change that we discovered was the belief that breastmilk alone does not meet 0–6-month-old children’s nutrition needs. Based on insights like these, our team in Burkina Faso produced new dramatic and informational radio spots to enable caregivers to recognise malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea symptoms, and help them to seek prompt and affordable treatment. Spots also encouraged parents to attend antenatal care and to breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months.
We broadcast our campaign for 24 months on 33 radio stations, in the 10 most widely spoken languages in Burkina Faso. Radio spots were broadcast 10 times per day to ensure they reach the largest audience.
We also worked with our radio station partners to create and broadcast interactive phone-in shows two hours per night, 6 nights per month on 17 of these stations. This format presented listeners with stories they could relate to and invited them to discuss the key behaviours, allowing the community to engage with the content collectively and in depth.
Listen to the spot
DMI conducted baseline and endline surveys to gather data on men’s knowledge and attitudes towards antenatal care attendance by their wives and the use of bed nets to protect children under five and pregnant women from malaria. 99% of baseline males were successfully followed up at endline, the average age in both groups was the same and the education profile of respondents was similar.
At endline, the odds of men in the intervention group correctly identifying the three most dangerous conditions for pregnant women were 1.6 times higher in the intervention versus control zone (p=.056). Men in the intervention group had 6.7 times greater odds of stating that women should go to antenatal care appointments even if they are feeling well (p=.008), an increase of 6.3 percentage points over the control group. Men in the intervention group had 20 times greater odds than those in the control group to correctly answer that it is not safe for a child to sleep without a bed net having been given prophylaxis (p<.000). This is an increase of 33.4 percentage points over the control group (p<.000).
Overall, there is good evidence that knowledge and attitudes shifted significantly in the intervention zone as a result of the campaign. This is likely to have positive impacts on male behaviours related to female ANC attendance and bed net use within their households, which are important behaviours for saving the lives of children under five in Burkina Faso.
We are grateful to the Light Foundation for funding this intervention.
We are delivering a similar national radio campaign in Mozambique and are actively seeking to expand our child survival programming in Tanzania and West Africa.