Can You Make an Impact on HIV Testing in West Africa in Just Three Weeks?

With a national HIV prevalence rate estimated at 4.7%, Côte d’Ivoire is the most affected country in West Africa where the HIV/AIDS pandemic has risen since 1985, when the first cases were discovered. The impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic is such that it represents the first cause of death for men and the second for women.

This team, coordinated by ThinkPlace, conducted three sprints of rapid iteration, prototyping and testing. Users, community members, NGO members/facilitators, and Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs staff participated in these workshops and prototyped alongside ThinkPlace. Drawing on the principles of co-design, these workshops repositioned participants of the Brothers for Life program from being ‘targets’ of public health interventions to being stakeholders whose opinions, behaviors, and experiences matter most.

From the first round of workshops, four concepts emerged and were turned into prototypes. One of the challenges of the program was to recruit older men (35+), whose HIV rate is superior to all age groups (7.4% compared to national average of 3.2%). Over the course of three weeks, twelve prototypes were developed, deployed and tested, often with a few iterations per prototype.

In order to understand if the prototypes were effective, ThinkPlace measured the prototypes against 2-5 variables. The intention was to understand, through these indicators, how awareness and sensitization can translate to action and, ultimately, to behavior change.

ThinkPlace managed to recruit over 500 men in 3 weeks, demonstrating that prototyping fast to show whether an idea can achieve a goal is a very successful approach. New Brothers for Life groups have been formed and as a result of our intervention, more men can be tested for HIV and treated.

Source: ThinkPlace

Date of Publication: June 29, 2021

Institutionalizing State-Led Social and Behavioral Change (SBC) Capacity Strengthening

The Challenge Initiative (TCI) Nigeria commenced its technical support to the government of Nigeria in late 2016. It uses an innovative, demand-driven approach that encourages cities to assume an active role in the design and implementation of high impact interventions (HIIs).

At the same time, local and global partners provide a supporting and facilitating role. States self-select and apply to participate in TCI. They demonstrate their commitment to TCI by pledging significant resources, either monetary or in-kind, to financing the HIIs. In return, TCI provides technical assistance and coaching support to governments to design a family planning and AYSRH program that is cost-effective and tailored to meet the needs and circumstances of each state.

This document, ‘Institutionalizing State-Led Social and Behavior Change (SBC) Capacity Strengthening’ is a concise guide designed to support the implementation of state-led SBC interventions in Nigeria. The document outlines the technical aspects of a demand-driven approach in which state SBC programs or interventions are led by state players from conception to monitoring in order to ensure a greater likelihood of sustained interventions and outcomes. This demand-driven strategy for SBC capacity strengthening uses family planning as an entry point and can be applied to other primary health care areas throughout Nigeria and in other African countries.

Source: Gates Institute/Johns Hopkins University

Date of Publication: June 18, 2021

Chipatala cha pa Foni, Malawi’s “Health Center by Phone,” Improving Information Given about Pregnancy-related Symptoms

The Health Center by Phone, or Chipatala cha pa Foni (CCPF), was developed by Malawi’s Ministry of Health and Village Reach as a community-based hotline in the Balaka district of Malawi.

This brief describes an activity that is part of a larger portfolio of USAID-funded research led by the Advancing Postpartum Hemorrhage Care (APPHC) Partnership focused on the prevention, detection, and management of Postpartum Hemorrhage (PPH), which continues to be the biggest threat to childbearing women in Malawi.

As part of APPHC scoping activities and stakeholder consultations in April 2019, CCPF was identified as an existing national health strategy with potential for providing Malawi’s women and their families important PPH information.

For more information contact Charlotte Warren,

Source: Breakthrough RESEARCH/Population Council

Date of Publication: June 18, 2021

Integrating Intersectionality in Work with Lesbian Women, Bisexual Women and Transwomen in Zimbabwe

This paper presents the work of Voice of the Voiceless (VOVO), a civil society organisation based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and development partner of Oxfam.

VOVO is working to integrate intersectionality in its work with lesbian women, bisexual women and trans-women (LBT). This work highlights the importance of using intersectional awareness to build bridges and form alliances in an effort to challenge the status quo in a country marred by a serious erosion of women’s rights. However, the lessons learned from this experience challenge the conjuncture of identity politics and intersectionality, which is both essential yet problematic.

The paper emphasizes the need to understand that applying an intersectional lens is critical to avoid reinforcing the exclusions already faced by many women.

Source: Oxfam

Date of Publication: March 11, 2021

Building Gender Sensitive Resilience through Women’s Economic Empowerment Lessons Learned from Pastoralist Women in Ethiopia  

The paper explores how the overlap of a double marginalized identity produces particular disadvantages for pastoralist women in Ethiopia, and how the Oxfam intervention in the Somali region addresses the connection between these disadvantages and poverty and power.

The Oxfam intervention in the Somali region addressed the connection between pastoralist women’s disadvantages and poverty and power through four main strategies, based on the assumption that the advancement on women’s rights would be a logical step after achieving a better economic and social position and condition in Somali communities.

These strategies were:

  • Raising awareness, building capacities, and educating women and girls
  • Mobilizing and organizing pastoralist women
  • Engaging new key stakeholders (traditional and religious leaders, youth, etc. in women’s issues
  • Providing sustainable and effective livelihoods alternatives

Source: Oxfam

Date of Publication: March 10, 2021

The Use of IVR to Support Monitoring and Evaluation of Media Interventions: A Case Study of the VOTO System in Rwanda

In this report the authors explore the potential that IVR systems have as both a distribution and an M&E tool, noting the limitations the current state of IVR technology imposes.

It describes a pilot study in Rwanda using the VOTO IVR platform to 1) distribute content and 2) collect quantitative and qualitative monitoring and evaluation data regarding a media program in Rwanda. In addition to showing that the VOTO system worked well as a distribution tool (though expensive) – the findings suggest great potential for the use of IVR as an M&E tool.

Source: Annenberg School of Communication

Date of Publication: January 9, 2021

Golden Star Resources Limited – Malaria Private Sector Case Study

Golden Star Resources Limited (GSR), a gold mining company with a 17-year history of gold production in Ghana—a country with a century-long history of gold production—ranks as one of the world’s largest producers of gold. GSR operates two mines in the Western Region of Ghana: Wassa and Prestea. The company employs 3,902 stadd, including 1,859 full-term and fixed-term employees and 2,043 third party contractors.

For more than a decade, GSR has incurred significant costs to dinance malaria treatment for its stadd and their dependents. Given the high prevalence of malaria in GSR mining communities, the corresponding employees’ high absenteeism rate due to malaria, and the dinancial impacts of treatment, the company chose a more cost-eddective approach by ramping up its malaria prevention strategy to lower its malaria burden

The distribution of insecticide-treated nets (ITNs) formed a major component of GSR’s enhanced strategy. In 2018, the company distributed 3,000 ITNs for stadd, their dependents, and the surrounding communities. They also provided insecticide sprays and protective clothing for stadd. The company tracks and reports data on employee malaria cases through its clinics, and provides malaria treatment services for employees and their dependents.

Source: Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, UKAID

Date of Publication: December 30, 2020

Smart Client and Smart Couple: Digital Health Tools to Empower Women and Couples for Family Planning

To prepare women and men for more effective FP decision-making communication before, during and after a counseling visit, under its global activities, the Health Communication Capacity Collaborative (HC3), a project under the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP) developed two “smart client” tools – one prioritizing women, and one prioritizing couples. The tools are mobile-phone, SMS- and interactive voice technology (IVR)- based and are designed to provide information and introduce practical skills to help women and their partners be informed, empowered and confident clients.

Both tools were pretested in Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire, and larger user studies were conducted with both tools in Kaduna, Nigeria to evaluate the effects of the tools. Participants in the user studies had very positive feedback about the content and their experience using the tools. Furthermore, both tools had a significant positive impact on users’ beliefs and intentions related to family planning.

The Smart Client and Smart Couple tools have been developed with the intention that they can be adopted and adapted by other FP projects seeking another channel for reaching their target audience.

The following tools and reports are available:

Source: Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs

Date of Publication: October 13, 2020

Using Digital Technology for Sexual and Reproductive Health: Are Programs Adequately Considering Risk?

This commentary follows the publication of Marie Stopes International’s randomized control trial in Bangladesh which showed that mHealth to promote contraceptive use increased women’s report of gender-based violence.

The commentary describes why use of mobile technology entails risks, and outlines ways in which programs can minimize risks to clients when communicating on sensitive sexual and reproductive health topics. These risks are essential for programs to consider during the Covid epidemic too, since many health organizations are pivoting to digital strategies and remote communication, which may increase risk of inadvertent disclosure SRH service or product use.

Source: Marie Stopes International

Date of Publication: September 3, 2020

IAS Conference E-posters

Breakthrough ACTION-Nigeria presented two e-posters at the just concluded 23rd International AIDS Conference.

The two posters titled Reinforcing COVID-19 Risk Communication and Community Engagement Response in Nigeria Through the Use of Mobile Curriculum andCOVID-19 Response Through 3-2-1 Digital Mobile Technology In Nigeria respectively were virtually presented on the poster virtual exhibition July 10th and 11th 2020. and is currently on the COVID-19 IAS Conference.

These posters are based on the Breakthrough ACTION-Nigeria support to the NCDC’s Risk communications and community engagement (RCCE) activities on the coronavirus pandemic through the United States Agency for International Agency (USAID) funding. .

Source: Breakthrough ACTION/Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs

Date of Publication: August 5, 2020