This originally appeared on the Malaria No More Blog.
As researchers and policymakers gather in Washington, D.C. this week to evaluate how population-level behavior change communications (BCC) can dramatically improve child survival, Malaria No More is working to keep up the momentum of BCC for malaria control in Africa.
Though it is hard to measure the impact of our mass media communication campaigns, there is already evidence that they are helping to change the culture of malaria control in places like Cameroon. Through a combination of nightly reminders via SMS, radio and television ads, plus a hit song about malaria by the country’s biggest pop stars, the Cameroon campaign produced a 6.6 percentage point increase in nightly mosquito net use among adults and a 12 percentage point increase in net use among their children under 5. That’s over half a million people now sleeping under nets that otherwise wouldn’t have been because of the knowledge, motivation, and/or timely reminder provided by the campaign.
The NightWatch program – Malaria No More’s model of multimedia, national-scale BCC for malaria – was supported by ExxonMobil and COTCO, and embedded in a national campaign with strong support from the Cameroonian government (Ministry of Health and National Malaria Control Program), health partners UNICEF, Plan International, IRESCO, CHAI, CCAM, ACMS-PSI, Lalela Project and United Against Malaria, and corporate partners such as MTN. NightWatch has also been rolled out within national campaigns in Chad, Senegal, and Tanzania.
The results of a program evaluation were published earlier this year in the peer-reviewed Malaria Journal. The evaluation was based on national survey results from 2011 and 2012, and estimated the impact of NightWatch malaria communications that were part of Cameroon’s national K.O. Palu campaign. Using a propensity score matching model, the analysis estimated that among Cameroonians with at least one net at home, exposure to NightWatch was associated with a 6.6 percentage point increase in last-night net use among adults (65.7% vs 59.1%) and a 12.0 percentage point increase in last-night net use among their children under five (79.6% vs 67.6%).
The program cost less than $0.16 per adult reached, and less than $1.62 per additional person protected by a net. The results suggest a strong role for mass media communication interventions in support of investments in malaria control commodities such as LLINs.
To read the study in full, click here.