Vunja Ukimya, Zungumza na Mwenzio: a mass media campaign to motivate couples to communicate effectively for HIV-free households

Vunja Ukimya, Zungumza na Mwenzio: a mass media campaign to motivate couples to communicate effectively for HIV-free households

Vunja Ukimya, Zungumza na Mwenzio: A Mass Media Campaign to Motivate Couples to Communicate Effectively for HIV-Free Households

"As a result of the campaign, couples were motivated to communicate about health, and men and women were more likely to seek reproductive health services together."

This was one of the key results of the Vunja Ukimya. Zungumza na Mwenzio (Break the Silence. Talk to your partner) campaign in Tanzania. The campaign was launched in 2010 as part of the CHAMPION project, a six-year initiative (2008-2014) to increase men's positive involvement in preventing the spread of HIV in Tanzania. The 5-month national social and behaviour change communication (SBCC) campaign was designed to encourage couples to communicate more effectively for healthier, more equitable relationships and to prevent the spread of HIV. "Campaign messages focused on the role of gender equity in ensuring health, and targeted individuals, couples, and communities in promoting dialogue around HIV, gender equality, and positive health-seeking behavior." The brief forms part of a series of CHAMPION briefs to highlight some of the project's achievements.

The brief explains the campaign approach, which used radio, television, national newspapers, billboards, and outreach events and activities to reach audiences of adult men and women over the age of 25 and in established, longer-term relationships. The roll-out occurred in phases, beginning with a teaser phase, followed by a two month "problem phase" that also incorporated a World Cup sub-campaign, and then a "how to" phase, highlighting and demonstrating the health benefits of effective communication between partners. The messages focused on positive couple communication and used food as a metaphor for relationships, "indicating that both (dinner and happiness) require preparation and care to achieve the desired results."

The following are a selection of lessons learned:

  • campaign slogans need to be specific, should not reinforce gender inequality, and should use language not specific to particular regions within a country;
  • large events, public gatherings, holidays, and international events are key opportunities to increase awareness about gender and health;
  • combining entertainment with community dialogue (as used in the Vunja Ukimya Activation Tour) is an effective way to communicate campaign messages.

Overall, the assessment of the Vunja Ukimya campaign was that it was widely well received, with community members responding positively to the promotion of couples being close and the concept of "transparency" within relationships.

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