In 2010, as one of nine sub-recipients to The Union, we began work on Project Axshya, an ambitious, nation-wide effort to improve access to TB diagnosis and treatment in India. One of our mandates was to work with the growing community radio network in India and find innovative ways to involve all of you in the fight against TB, which remains a major public health problem in India.
Today, India has the highest number of people with TB in the world and is often referred to as the TB capital (nothing to be proud of). Despite the efforts of a vast public health system and a growing private sector, three people die of TB every two minutes in India. TB is a curable and treatable disease – and that means we could have prevented those three deaths.
One of the biggest reasons people die of TB is that they do not have the right information about it. For instance, many of us do not know that the simple cough is the most important symptom for TB. If we have a cough for more than two weeks, we should do a TB test and make sure we do not have the disease. Many of us also do not know that TB is not hereditary – if a father or mother has TB, there is no guarantee that their son or daughter will have it too. We also do not accept that TB is nothing to be ashamed of and we continue to isolate and discriminate against people with TB.
This is where all of you come into the picture – and this is the role of community radio in the fight against TB. By involving all of you, we hoped to improve the quality of information on TB that is available, and thereby improve understanding of TB among communities. We hoped to dispel myths and misconceptions about the disease, improve awareness and build knowledge about locally available TB services among communities. After all, it is not enough to know about TB, we also need to tell our listeners where they should go to get high-quality TB services.
Five years since we began this work – and mainly because of all the hard work all our partner stations have invested - we are proud to say that we have been able to develop a replicable model for engaging community radio for public health issues. In these five years, we have:
- Involved over 50 stations to generate over 2000 hours of programming on TB
- Generated content on TB in 9 languages across 17 states in India
- Brought communities face-to-face with local civil society leaders and service providers through 130 community meetings
- Increased the capacity of community radio to develop quality, innovative programming on TB through customised skills-building workshops
- Generated anecdotal evidence through success stories to suggest that stations have been able to provide their listeners with information on TB that they previously lacked – this can be seen through the calls and messages received by all of you and from interactions with those who attend community meetings you have organised
- Built linkages between you, your listeners and local healthcare providers. Several of you have been successful in establishing independent links with local TB authorities
Talking TB: A Handbook for Community Radio
To mark five years of this initiative and to share our learnings with all of you, we have developed a new resource, titled ‘TALKING TB: A HANDBOOK FOR COMMUNITY RADIO’. This handbook contains two sections – a knowledge section with several short modules on different aspects of TB and a radio skills section with practical exercises on producing effective radio programs on TB. All modules are written in radio language and are intended for self-learning. For those of you who have attended our trainings, you will realise that the modules build on exercises we did during the workshop sessions.
How to use this handbook
There are many different versions of this handbook.
First of all, there is a Hindi version and an English version (unfortunately, we did not have the budget to translate this into other languages, although we really wanted to do that).
Secondly, there is an html version and a PDF version. Many of you may have already received our CDs with these versions. The html version works like a simple website – you open the ‘index page’ on any browser (Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome etc) and just go from one page to another. The PDF version can be opened in Acrobat.
We believe in the power of community radio and we believe that you can change lives by offering your listeners accurate and relevant information about important issues like TB. We do hope you find this resource useful and we would be very grateful to receive any feedback or comments on this resource from you.
Thank you very much for all your efforts!
On behalf of REACH