Social media can be an important tool for increasing knowledge and awareness and encouraging behavior change, but many health workers aren’t experienced in its use.
At the start of August, Vital Strategies delivered a two-day workshop on the use of smart phones and social media to community health workers (CHWs) and health service providers in the Kigoma region of Tanzania. The objective of the workshop was to help the participants – who are involved in Vital Strategies’ Thamini Uhai (Value Life) maternal health initiative – to learn how to harness the power of social media.
The 40 participants are currently involved in the Jitofautishe (Be Different) campaign in Kigoma, which promotes the benefits of family planning in an effort to increase its use among men, women and youth.
According to the 2010 Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) a quarter of married women in Tanzania and as many as 41% of married women in Kigoma have an unmet need for contraception — that is, they don’t want to become pregnant but are not using any family planning methods.
Since May, the campaign has used radio ads, a radio drama, posters and a comic book to highlight the benefits of spacing or limiting pregnancies, such as increased education and better employment opportunities for women, improved health for mothers and children, more effective use of family resources, and stronger communities.
CHWs and service providers are an integral part of the campaign. CHWs meet one-on-one with women, lead group meetings, and organize discussions with community leaders about family planning, while health care workers counsel women about various contraceptive options. who come to health facilities seeking contraceptives. about family planning. With the right tools and knowledge, these stakeholders can use social media to enhance the reach and impact of the Jitofautishe campaign in their communities.
Each workshop participant received a smart phone and workshop leaders demonstrated how to use the touchscreen and camera. Facilitators also discussed the various social media platforms, and suggested ways to create and share compelling success stories, photos and videos through the WhatsApp private chat platform.
As CHWs and service providers tell their own stories, Vital Strategies will curate them for posting to the Thamini Uhai Twitter and Facebook channels, as well as Jamii Forums,(www.jamiiforums.com), a popular Tanzania social media site. The goal is to continue to encourage discussion within couple, families and communities about family planning and its key benefits and to motivate women, men and youth to use health family planning services.
Be sure to follow our stories on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #ThaminiUhai