Outcome of the First International SBCC Summit; Highlighting the Many Success of Malaria SBCC

Post by Usman Usman, Behavior Change Communication Advisor, FHI 360 Nigeria

The International SBCC summit has come and gone, as popularized before the commencement of the summit, the summit actually brought together over 700 practitioners from global community of social and behavior change communication (SBCC) organizations, to advance the practice of SBCC in health. The summit was a huge success considering that this is the first time SBCC professionals from more than 50 countries came together to share experience and deliberate on way forward for SBCC. Most of the presenters – especially the keynote speakers – demonstrated their understanding that the impacts of SBCC are real, but are also costly. One of the key outcomes of the summit was presentation of what was termed “Addis Declaration” by Dr. Rajiv N. Rimal Professor & Chair, Department of Prevention and Community Health, George Washington University. He proposed 12 concepts that will address the challenges faced by practitioners and also advance the cause of SBCC globally.

Though the summit was not focused on any specific intervention area, this write up will provide a glimpse of specific presentations on malaria SBCC and highlight some of the achievements in promotion of malaria preventive behaviors in 2 countries. Malaria is one of the major cause of morbidity and mortality all over the world. To prevent and treat malaria these simple behaviors need to be adopted:

  • Sleeping inside bed nets every night and always
  • Taking malaria prevention medicine during pregnancy
  • Testing, treating with appropriate drugs and adherence to treatment regimen

Ethiopia

To promote these behaviors USAID supported the Ethiopian Government to implement the JIMMA project. The project adopted the various strategies through the use of community volunteers, school teachers, school students/anti-malaria club members and religious leaders. Findings from the project as presented at summit shows that the JIMMA project was a huge success. The study focused on assessing the importance of community volunteers in promoting positive malaria preventive behaviors. Based on the findings, it was concluded that community volunteers are important resource to promote malaria preventive behaviors, but it is crucial to improve their behavioral experience first before they serve as change agent. Also volunteers need to be role models in other to influence people’s behavior.

Sierra Leone

In Sierra Leone the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) created numerous challenges for the continuation of routine health delivery services, this seriously affected the uptake of malaria preventive and treatment services by weakening the linkages between the communities and health facilities. There was a drastic increase in malaria morbidity and mortality. The country developed and implemented a Malaria and Ebola response program through Mass Drug Administration (MDA). SBCC was an integral part of this program. Campaign jingles were created, translated in local dialects and aired on community radio stations. This was also followed by Radio and TV panel discussions and advocacy through newspapers and other text messages. The end line result of the campaign showed that the proportion of malaria outpatient cases (all ages) decreased by 47% in MDA communities and 22% in the non-MDA communities. Similarly malaria inpatient cases also decreased by 29% in the MDA Peripheral Health Units.

Conclusion

The SBCC summit lasted for 3 days, but these 3 days will greatly shape the future of SBCC programs globally. On the last day of the summit, participants unanimously agreed that this type of summit should be organized more frequently, hence the adoption of 2018 for the 2nd SBCC summit. For the future of malaria SBCC, there was a recommendation to create a platform for sharing and learning from other countries’ experience and to provide a more convincing evidence of SBCC’s contribution to the reduction of malaria.

For me the SBCC summit can be best described as “3 days of learning, experience sharing, networking, excitement and fun.”