Àìsàn là nwò, a kì í wo ikú.
One treats an illness; one does not treat death.
Join us in Creating Strategies to Realizing the Goal of Health Care for All the World. EMPOWERING COMMUNICATIONS has been dedicated to developing innovative and effective strategies for health care, health education and disease prevention world wide. Please take the time to read about our work.
The global polio eradication initiative has been close to achieving its goals. Detected polio cases dropped dramatically from 350,000 in 1988 to 483 in 2001. Polio is spreading most rapidly in Nigeria and Indonesia, and new cases have cropped up in Yemen, Sudan, Ethiopia, Angola, Mali, Cameroon, Chad and Eritrea. All told, the number of polio cases worldwide had dropped drastically. But in 2004 the figure rose alarmingly to more than 700.
Resistance to vaccination has been one of the major culprits of this reversal in trend. Much of this resistance has been attributed to culture or religion, but our experience in combating rumors suggests that there is frequently a political motive behind the rumors disguised in religious or cultural cloth. In the case of Nigeria, for instance, it is clear that some local religious and political leaders raised concern about the safety of the vaccines and manipulated fears to
discredit the country’s federal government and the Western donors backing the vaccination campaign.
Rumors also circulated in Indonesia that polio vaccinations are contrary to Islamic dietary law and are a plot by Christians to secretly sterilize Muslim women and introduce the HIV virus. Similar rumors precipitated the 2003 Nigerian outbreak, when Muslim leaders in the country’s northern Kano state forbade inoculations for 10 months. The declaration was later rescinded, though the polio virus has since spread across Africa and to Asia.
In using radio to counter rumor, we developed a consistent methodology of taking rumors head on. In numerous instances in Africa and Asia, we aired interviews with those publicly spreading the disinformation and developed programming that presented the other side of the story – in effect, moving the issue out of the political arena and into a public health discourse. In response, we often saw a reversal of position on the part of those perpetrating the rumors and an erosion of the
public’s resistance to vaccination. The techniques that we deployed were similar to ones deployed in conflict resolution strategies, in which there is a need to re-humanize the belligerent parties in order to find common ground and peaceful solutions. The political function of rumors in health settings is similar as they often serve to demonize perceived adversaries in a bid to consolidate a political base or provoke some sort of action by a public.
POLIO ERADICATION INITIATIVE
Dr. Pirio led the broadcast initiative within the International Broadcasting Bureau, the Voice of America and Worldnet Television designed to mobilize millions of people in Africa, Asia and Europe to have their children vaccinated against the polio virus. Because of a concerted international effort, the number of cases of polio worldwide has dropped spectacularly, going from 350,000 cases in 1988 when the Global Polio Eradication Initiative began to just a few hundred today.
This eradication initiative aims to eliminate all cases due to the wild virus throughout the world.
HAUSA LANGUAGE BROADCASTS
Developing Communications strategies targeting specific communities is one of the greatest
challenges today facing health care educators. Read about how Empowering Communications tailored an a radio program
for the Hausa people of Northern Nigeria.
Empowering Communications has developed a number of HIV/AIDS Education Initiatives.
Read About them here.
Child illness and mortality is one of the great tragedies of our age. More than ten million children of the world’s children die each year before reaching the age of five. Sadly, two of every three of these children die from easily preventable, treatable diseases such as diarrhea, malaria, pneumonia, tetanus and from conditions like malnutrition.