This year’s International Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) Summit marked the largest gathering of professionals focused on using communication to achieve social change; more than 1,000 participants attended from all around the world. The SBCC Summit, which featured research and work from the VectorWorks project, was held in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, April 16–20, 2018.
In an oral presentation, Eric Filemyr, Program Officer, presented on VectorWorks’ experience, “Incorporating Gender into Malaria Programming and SBCC.” He presented VectorWorks’ gender analysis and gender strategy, demonstrating the impact of gender in malaria. Mr. Filemyr argued that programming that does not address gender, or that exploits gender inequality, not only hurts progress toward gender equity, but also that it can hurt malaria outcomes. Similarly, incorporating gender into your messaging and programming can have a positive effect, not just on gender outcomes, but also on malaria outcomes. For example, findings from Nigeria demonstrate that discussing net use in the family was associated with a statically significant increase in net use.
Dr. Bola Olapeju presented on VectorWorks’ “Assessment of the Senegal Insecticide-Treated Net (ITN) Social Marketing Program.” Her presentation assessed the social marketing program used for a private sector ITN campaign. The evaluation was a cross-sectional survey of 1,080 households in Dakar. Approximately half the population was found to have a favorable attitude about ITNs and malaria prevention. Those identified in lower wealth-quintiles were more likely to have favorable attitudes; perhaps because they are more vulnerable to malaria than the wealthy. At least 73% of households had at least one ITN, but only 38% had enough ITNs for their household. This could be due to large household sizes—29% of the sample lived in households with nine or more residents. The assessment determined that people in the assessment were more likely to use purchased ITNs instead of free ones. People exposed to the campaign were more likely to purchase a net (48%) than households who were not exposed to the campaign (27%). The people of the lowest wealth quintile were least likely to be familiar with the campaign, showing that outreach outside the mass media is needed to reach the poor. Future campaigns should take extra effort to reach those of lower wealth quintiles, who are harder to reach with mass media.
In addition to sharing their presentations and knowledge with the international community, the SBCC Summit was an opportunity for Mr. Filemyr and Dr. Olapeju to learn from and share ideas with other malaria experts and SBCC practitioners from different organizations around the world. They learned of the thought and research that went into designing a cartoon empowering children to fight malaria. In a presentation on the Malaria SBCC Evidence Database, they learned that most peer-reviewed articles on SBCC and malaria do not report on exposure to SBCC and the use of behavioral theories and SBCC frameworks. They learned about cultural beliefs which may impact net use if not addressed by SBCC, like people being buried in shrouds that resemble nets in Kenya , and how empowering community health workers in Zambia helped compensate for not having enough resources for refresher trainings. Mr. Filemyr and Dr. Olapeju are bringing these lessons back to the larger team to improve implementation in countries supported by VectorWorks’ global program.