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Tackling cholera through radio in Kenya

Friday 8 April 2016, by SIGNIS

Nairobi, April, 8th, 2016 (BBC). For World Health Day, April 7, the BBC looked at how a volunteer-run local radio station is helping prevent cholera in Kenya.

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Kamadi, presenter at Mtaani Radio

Cholera is an important issue in Kenya: last year, by the end of June, a total of 4,937 cases and 97 deaths had been reported nationally. According to public health officials, the spread of cholera in Nairobi particularly affected people living in slums. Poor hygiene practices are one of the reasons for the spread of the disease.

Mtaani Radio, run by a team of volunteers, is a community radio station in Nairobi. Every week, they record “WASH Wednesdays”, a “show looking at ways listeners can improve their health and hygiene.” The show reaches over 100,000 people in the Kawangware community.

“It’s time we the people of Kawangware demanded our constitutional right of access to clean water from the government. This will go a long way in reducing outbreaks of water-borne diseases” said Kamadi, editor and presenter of the show. “It’s also our responsibility to ensure we treat or boil drinking water before consumption so that we can reduce the amount of time and money we spend seeking medical attention” he continued. “A healthy country is a productive country.”

During the cholera outbreak last year, one thing public health officials did to control the spread of cholera in Kawangware area was to close down food vending kiosks that failed to meet the required health standards. In support of this initiative, Mtaani Radio produced public service announcements (PSAs) targeting food vendors and their customers to raise awareness on the importance of observing hygiene to reduce the risk of contracting cholera.

The PSAs reflect common scenarios in local shops, and are acted out in local accents. They are powerful examples of how local radio can relate to their communities in ways national radio may not.

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