Sustainable Prevention of Water Associated Infection Risks: An Awareness Campaign Using Visual Media
Water-skin contact associated infections constitute a considerable portion of the most important parasitic infectious diseases in tropical and subtropical environments, with significant public health and economic consequences. Though these diseases have been recognised as ‘diseases of behaviour’ for many decades, an essential approach to reduce their incidence, namely changing attitudes to infection risk situations, has been largely neglected.
It was thus the aim of this project to develop an awareness campaign to minimise infection risk situations at the waterside. The awareness campaign is focused in a local setting endemic for water-skin contact associated infections, mainly schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH). It is based on the assessment of environmental features, socio-cultural and behavioural factors of local population groups, which affect the transmission of schistosomiasis and STH. Local communication patterns and information sources are evaluated, to help the awareness campaign reach its target. Accordingly, a transdisciplinary approach, taking into account all these diverse aspects, has been adopted. This required the collaboration of researchers from the natural, socio-cultural and communication sciences, local health and media workers, and members of the community at risk.
The studies revealed that schistosomiasis and STH are not known to the targeted population groups, though they are endemic to the region. Therefore, defecating at the waterside where people swim, fish or wash clothes and dishes, is common. Using sanitary structures is not perceived as an efficient health care strategy. The visual medium of TV turned out to be a suitable way of bringing the awareness campaign to the mostly illiterate members of the target population. Animated cartoons in the form of ‘TV-spots’, alerting people to the infection risk situations caused by particular activities at the waterside and the possibilities for avoiding these activities have been developed.
The project was run in cooperation with a comprehensive programme for integrated control of human parasitoses in the region of Man in western Côte d’Ivoire.
KeywordsAwareness campaign Visual media Prevention Communication Water associated Infection risks
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