Posted by Justin on July 27, 2017

The National HIV/AIDS/STI/TB Council (NAC) has today 20th April, 2017, hosted a workshop of radio producers of Test Your Health programmes which promote adolescent HIV Testing Services (HTS) under the financial support of UNICEF.

NAC Director General Dr Reuben Kamoto Mbewe reminded participants drawn from five provinces where these programmes are already running and representatives of radio stations which are yet to be contracted, that they had an onerous task of reducing the burden of HIV in their respective catchment areas.

Dr Mbewe said the HIV burden was heaviest at community level and that it was sometimes exacerbated by factors such as illiteracy and poverty adding that coping mechanisms to ill health was a huge challenge to people who were resource constrained.

In recognition of the need for stronger lower level HIV response, NAC is actively participating in the larger national decentralisation process seeking to take services closer to the people.   

“It is often said that if it is not happening at community level, then it is not happening anywhere else,” Dr Mbewe said.

Dr Mbewe told participants who included Provincial HIV and AIDS Coordination Advisors (PACAs) and Provincial Information Technology, Monitoring and Evaluation Officers that it was incumbent upon district or community level media outlets to continually provide factual information to help their respective audiences to make informed decisions on health in general and HIV and AIDS in particular.

Conventional or traditional media still play a central role in providing accurate, scientifically proven and dependable information even with the advent of social media many of which were replete with half-truths and falsehoods.

“The responsibility placed upon you as sources of credible information for decision making on health programmes including HIV and AIDS is heavier today because of the advent of a multiplicity of information sources such as new media many of which provide unverified facts on a wide range of subjects,” Dr Mbewe said.

He specifically pointed out discrimination against people living with HIV as one of the barriers the radio stations should help curb by proffering correct information.

And UNICEF Zambia HIV Specialist for adolescents Rick Olson urged the radio producers to rely on authentic information sources to guide their programmes for possible positive impact.

The five radio stations already running Test Your Health radio programmes are Hot FM in Lusaka, Falls FM in Southern, Flava on the Copperbelt, Breeze FM in Eastern and New Generation in North Western Provinces.

Report prepared by the NAC Communications Unit