Weekly Awesome Senegal: An Extensive Malaria Radio Program

By: Team TEWDU FM (94.0 rajo men oo Diaobe), PC/ Senegal

The TEWDU FM (94.0 Diaobe) Peace Corps radio program has completed the early stages of an audacious, eight show series about malaria. The series has at least three broad goals: to produce high quality mass media communications to disseminate educational messages about malaria; to  involve local health workers, theater groups, musicians, and the everyday listener in show production to increase villager interest and investment in the program; and to increase exposure to Peace Corps and foster a positive representation of Peace Corps activities across the entire catchment area of TEWDU FM.

The series plans to cover a comprehensive malaria curriculum with the following proposed topics:
1) a review of the Senegalese government’s National Malaria Control Program
2) the malaria parasite and malaria transmission
3) prevention strategies (other than an LLIN)
4) mosquito nets
5) symptoms and warning signs of dangerous cases
6) disease and treatment (general)
7) treatment of malaria
8) review

The Show

Each show is paired with a “focus village” within the catchment area of TEWDU FM, and that village receives two visits from volunteers around the time of the show. During the first visit, usually a week or so before the show airs, the team seeks to meet with the village’s health workers to review the curriculum for that specific show, to pretest individuals on specific curriculum points, to take fun audio clips from villagers, and to convene a focus group to listen to the previous show. The day after the show airs, the team returns to that same village to elicit informal feedback, to formally post-test the villagers pretested during the first visit, and to hold a formal training to review and emphasize the curriculum points presented in the previous night’s show.

Pending favorable weather conditions, shows are performed live, using a full script written with the help of a local health extension agent and the polished audio clips from the village of focus. For example, short PSA jingles used by the NGO Malaria No More (MNM) to remind listeners to use their mosquito nets has been one consistent element of each show. The MNM jingles use celebrities such as Viviane (a national sensation in Senegal) and Akon (an international sensation by all accounts), but for TEWDU FM shows, the melody of the jingle combines with the audio of health workers from the focus village.

The first two shows of the series aired on 03 and 17 of September. Initial feedback from the first two shows has been overwhelmingly positive, and the team hopes to improve on these early successes by increasing the involvement of the Senegalese health workers and local musicians and by collaborating with local theater groups. Recall and comprehension of the shows’ content has been mixed. Informal feedback shows that villagers sometime can recall specific points of information presented in the show, but when asked directly for recollection of specific curriculum points, it is unclear if villagers consistently add to their existing knowledge about malaria.


The “clean up causieries” during the follow up visit to the focus ville are crucial opportunities to ensure at least a small group of the broad listenership has heard all the information presented in the show and has gained understanding of the presented curriculum. The team is making a strong effort to make these trainings as dynamic and effective as possible. For example, during the follow up visit of the second show, the team showed pictures of nematodes in tomatoes and humans to help explain microorganisms in general and provide a perhaps more common example of a parasite.

Next, participants were shown pictures of the malaria parasite. rapid tests were then explained and participants were shown an example of both a positive and a negative test. Village health workers then performed a new test, and the results were read later in the presentation. The villagers were shown a large picture of a female Anopheles feeding, and attention was called to the blood being drawn through the proboscis and the blood filled stomach. To clearly show malaria transmission, the team performed a simple demonstration. In its simplest form, one villager was given a small, clear plastic bag with clear water inside. This bag, it was explained, represents a healthy person’s blood. Another villager was given a bag with water colored by red juice and black ink from a pen. This bag, it was explained, represents the blood of a person sick with malaria (see the parasites coloring the blood?!). A third villager held the picture of the feeding Anopheles and played the role of the mosquito. The PCV played the role of the proboscis, using a straw to draw fluid from a sick person’s bag and to deposit the fluid teeming with malaria parasites into the healthy villager’s bag.

This scenario was re-explained and repeated several times to teach and emphasize different points relating to transmission. For example, what happens if both people in the scenario are healthy?  By combining the radio broadcast itself with a small group training and one on one interviews, the TEWDU team strives to help the focus ville’s gain maximum possible understanding of the content of its show.

Next time you come to the weekly and world renown Diaobe luumo, stick around for the next show. The third show in the series airs (in sha’Allah) on 01 october.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s