Population Media Center’s Radio Serial Drama in Nigeria Shows Dramatic Results After Only Three Months on the Air

September 28, 2006 • Nigeria, News

Shelburne, VT – Population Media Center’s radio serial drama, Gugar Goge (“Tell me Straight”) went on the air in Nigeria in June of 2006. The program is being broadcast throughout Kano and Kaduna states. After just a few months on the air the program is displaying impressive results.

Population Media Center joined forces with Rotary International to combat the problem of obstetric fistula in Nigeria (a condition commonly resulting from adolescent childbirth that makes its victims chronically incontinent). PMC produced a radio serial drama aimed at preventing obstetric fistula, through delaying marriage and the onset of childbearing until adulthood. Rotary is doing surgical repairs for fistula victims. PMC’s program not only models behavior that will prevent the condition, but it also encourages fistula victims to seek help for the treatable problem.

Here is a story of one girl whose life will be forever changed.

In a sleepy village in Northern Nigeria, Halima Abdulsalami, an 18 year old girl suffered from the condition of obstetric fistula. Halima’s story began when she was just 15 years old. Her parents worried she was too old to be single and began to look for a husband for her. At age 16, she had her first child with the help of a local female traditional birth attendant. Her husband did not approve of male physicians attending to her and consequently did not allow her to attend ante-natal clinics. It was during Halima’s second delivery that complications began to arise. Due to a prolonged, unassisted labor Halima started leaking feces and urine. She developed obstetric fistula. Although obstetric fistula is both treatable and preventable with proper medical care, Halima was denied adequate care due to her husband’s opposition to male physicians. As a result Halima was forced to live with the condition. Her husband was soon fed up with Halima’s condition and sent her away. She became a source “embarrassment” to friends and family and was stigmatized by community members. With no where to go Halima returned to her family, with little hope for improvement.

While at home, Halima found the support she needed and some important information. Her uncle told her about a radio drama he listened to and how similar Halima’s situation was to that of one of the characters. Halima and her mother became avid listeners of Gugar Goge, and through the show learned about a local fistula treatment center. Halima is now awaiting the simple surgical procedure that will restore her health and allow her to return to a normal life. She has also been able to attend to her newly born child with the help of nurses and doctors.

Halima’s story is just one example of the many women in Nigeria who have been empowered through PMC’s programming to seek medical treatment. Gugar Goge is PMC’s latest production in Hausa, the most widely spoken language in northern Nigeria and neighboring countries. The program has been on the air for only a few months and it is already having an impact on the people who most need information and assistance. The program is aired on Radio Nigeria-Hausa Service and FM 96.5.

In order to evaluate the effects of PMC’s serial drama, Population Media Center partnered with Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria to conduct a preliminary monitoring report based on client exit interviews at three clinics, one hospital, and one basic health post in Kano and Kaduna states. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of the serial drama on demand for reproductive health services.

Data was collected from 663 clinic exit interviews. After only two and a half months of broadcasting, 44 percent of all clients had listened to the program. In all, 30 percent of the reproductive health clients and 47 percent of the fistula clients said that the serial drama was their primary motivation for seeking services.

Population Media Center is very pleased by the level of response so early in the program. When the program completes its air schedule, PMC will conduct a formal quantitative and qualitative evaluation.

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