The Global Maternal Newborn Health Conference holds for us a unique opportunity to come together and think of how to reach the sustainable development goal of ending preventable maternal and newborn deaths. One such way is by preventing neonatal infections using chlorhexidine for umbilical cord care. But just implementing interventions may not be enough; communication to providers and mothers can enhance uptake and effectiveness of these interventions to save lives.
JSI’s Chlorhexidine cord care program (CNCP) is supporting the Government of Nepal to scale up the use of chlorhexidine for umbilical cord care. Chlorhexidine is applied on the umbilical cord stump immediately after cord cutting for both facility and home born babies. One three-gram chlorhexidine tube is distributed to a pregnant women either during her antenatal visit to a health facility or by her local Female Community Health Volunteer during the 8th month of pregnancy, with proper counseling.
To increase awareness among the community people and thus improve demand and good practice, a behavior change communication program has been designed and implemented. The communication initiative, which started in September 2015 and will continue until September 2017, will use a variety of strategies to create demand for chlorhexidine. This social behavior change communication (SBCC) campaign will initiate message dissemination about the value of this low-cost chlorhexidine gel from both national and local radio and television stations.
During the first 3 months of the SBCC campaign, messages about chlorhexidine application (both for health facilities and the community births) are being broadcast as public announcements from mainstream television channels. Messages have been placed during prime time news bulletins on Kantipur Television and popular programs on Nepal Television in order to reach a mass audience throughout the country. Radio airings of ad spots have also been placed with stations having a wide listenership; Kantipur FM and Image FM, with a priority given to reaching remote geographies and achieving effective coverage of targeted women, pregnant women, FCHVs and health workers. Branding of chlorhexidine (Navi Malam) has been incorporated into the sponsored radio programs that are very popular in remote locations, ensuring great coverage of messages.
Realizing the strength of local and community FM stations in Nepal, JSI has emphasized mobilization of local FM stations in 30 districts during the first phase, to increase access to the chlorhexidine message in remote areas, not covered by national broadcasting. Other implementing partners—Save the Children, One Heart Worldwide, Care Nepal and ADRA—are also supporting the airing of chlorhexidine radio messages from local FM stations in 22 additional districts. JSI will do monitoring of these interventions and evaluate at the end of three months, based on a media monitoring and evaluation plan. Based on results of the monitoring and evaluation the way forward for the remaining period of time will be decided. A detailed broadcasting schedule of Radio and TV spots has been prepared and shared with the partners.
*This article was originally published by the Maternal Health Task Force blog on October 17, 2015.