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Sky is the limit for Afya Radio

Dr Joseph Kavit.THE Tandabui Health Access Tanzania (THAT)/Afya Radio held a consultative meeting recently that reviewed the tools and content of the various campaigns to be conducted in Mwanza region and beyond. The Campaigns, according to Dr Joseph Kavit, who is THAT/Afya Radio CEO, will cover youth, children, pregnant women and adults. While in the city, the CEO granted this exclusive interview to Our Staff Writer, JAFFAR MJASIRI, stating that the campaigns will also address crucial areas such as communicable diseases and non-communicable diseases. Read excerpts…..

Q. What is Tandabui Health Access Tanzania (THAT)?
A. Tandabui Health Access Tanzania (THAT), previously known as Mwananchi Trust, is a registered (2925) nongovernmental, not for profit organization which has been in operation for more than three years. Our goal is to sustain what the country has achieved in its 2025 vision for growth, reduction of poverty, improved governance and a better quality of life for all its citizens. Further our vision is to see that poor and vulnerable people are free from preventable illnesses and death.

Also our Mission is working to realize improved access of quality health services, survival and well-being of poor and vulnerable people through health system strengthening and social marketing of accountable health systems, behaviours and products. However, our building blocks (guiding principles) include people centredness, reliability, innovativeness and efficiency. That can be achieved through four inter-linked programmes: Behaviour change, communication, Social accountability, Community and Media. Others are Health System strengthening; preventive screening and development of human resource for health.

Q. Why was this consultative meeting crucial at this time?
A. Mwanza regional statistics on maternal deaths show that at least 3-4 women die every week. For example, after reviewing the tools and content of the various campaigns, it will allow the launching of these campaigns soon. It will create community dialogue on pregnant women among other things.

The meeting also critiqued the documentaries and spot announcements which will be aired regularly when the campaigns begin. Since it was only some months back that Afya Radio which is one of the projects was started and we were in a learning process which has helped to shape us and now we have attained these campaigns and tools.

Q. What is the composition of the Consultative meeting?
A. The consultative meeting that ended on Thursday comprises of multi-professionals in areas of communication, health, CSO, NGOs. These experts critiqued and reviewed the campaigns to make sure that the message we are sending will bring the change we anticipate.

Q. Which are the key areas where this change is to be effected?
A. The key areas which were in discussion include the pilot study in Geita, Ilemela and Nyamagana districts. This will involve the broadened mapping survey. First mapping is a reflection on how the status quo is passing through those clinics, as well as the state of the health facilities. The meeting has also reviewed the mapping survey tools as well as educative communication radio spots, documentaries and brochures. Other areas include pregnant women and children care plus communicable and non-communicable diseases campaigns.

Q. It is interesting to see that your organization is ready to face criticisms?
A. When there is a friction there is a movement. For example a car tire without grip will slide and render no movement. The consultative meeting critiques and criticisms have helped us to add grips to the draft tool and campaign models to make them efficient and effective.

Q. What is the advantage of this brainstorming?
A. Since we invited resourceful people to participate in the consultative meetings, we have documented a lot of ideas, which shall be incorporated in the action plans of these campaigns. The next step will be to go out and implement them.

Q. When will these campaigns begin?
A. These campaigns are expected to begin in two weeks time from now. We are planning to make a big inauguration ceremony in Mwanza.

Q. Where will the campaigns focus?
A. The campaigns will focus on three districts (Geita, Ilemela and Nyamagana) of Mwanza region. The play programmes that educate the public will be aired based on the campaigns and the radio listening clubs to be formed, they will all participate in the programme. The change agents to be posted in these areas earmarked for the clubs, to facilitate people’s participation in the radio programme will help the participants to make call-ins to give their views, comments and concerns about the topics on the campaign.

Q. What are the major challenges of the campaigns?
A. There will be social action after the campaigns. Some people will ask about their rights to medication which will irritate those medical practitioners. These practitioners will therefore be held accountable. We expect that in some situations the reactions will be extremely serious. However, we are trying to involve people who are accountable to be involved in these campaigns, so as to mitigate these anticipated frictions.

Q. What will the maternal mortality campaign deliver?
A. First we aim at achieving reduction of maternal deaths. Since the studies in the region are showing that in every week there is 3-4 pregnant women dying, this is enough wake-up call. When a woman is not cared for, it is an early sign that the new born child will face serious problems.

Q. What is so unique about this Consultative meeting and what can others learn from your experience?
A. It has been a blessing for our staff members working with Afya radio which is going to air these campaigns to improve on their production skills. Something which is even more important is the added value to the content from the experts in various fields that I mentioned before.

A new insight and vision was achieved during the Consultative meeting deliberations. This means that there was capacity building as well as exposure to our members of staff. That could have not been possible without the cooperation of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Regional Health Administration, District Health Authorities, media and communication experts, community representatives, Pregnant women representatives, NGOs and CSOs.

Q. How will the campaigns work?
A. There is more than one campaign so to say. Let’s take for example the SHTUKA (Wakeup) Campaign which will go on air. The purpose of this campaign is to do evaluation in schools. We want to encourage the youths not to indulge in drinking alcohol. Also those who are already in a drinking habit should be convinced to stop and abandon this behaviour, which is detrimental to their health, education and future.

Q. Why did you decide to focus on secondary schools?
A. For example, the ‘Ulevi Noma’ campaign was triggered by a parent who brought his son to the Afya radio station. He was asking our staff to talk to the boy. When we engaged him, the boy said: “I wish I knew about the hazards of drinking when I was still at school. It is unfortunate that the media and parents do not speak often about this nowadays.

Q. What is your major achievement?
A. The achievement is for us to be able to produce the local content. Our health programmes emerged number two in the Media Council of Tanzania competition this year. At the beginning it was a struggle. But now we are able to produce such programmes, including the ones to be used in the campaigns. What we are going to do in seven months of implementing these aforementioned campaigns is indeed a great achievement. It is also about the Buswelu ward in Mwanza.

We had initiated a worm screening exercise to establish how much it was affecting children’s performance. This was conceived after learning that there was a small number of toilets. When Standard Seven results for 2011 came out, Buswelu had the highest number of failures.

Q. Who else do you share these successes with?
A. We always share the results of our campaigns and programmes with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, CSOs, NGOs and development partners. Our intention is to scale up the success part of the campaigns.

Q. What agenda is your organization promoting?
A. We love to see a Tanzania where illness and untimely deaths are preventable. We advocate for social action that will help to strengthen the system. These campaigns aim at empowering people to ask the doctors. The aim is to sustain these actions by the communities. If a patient asks a medical practitioner why he has not given him the required service, they feel threatened by such patients, this should not be the case.


over 10 years ago