The Support for Service Delivery Integration (SSDI)-Communication project was a five year (2011-2016) USAID-funded social and behavior change communication (SBCC) project that worked with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and other stakeholders in Malawi to promote normative and behavior change in several health areas: maternal, neonatal and child health (MNCH); family planning (FP); malaria; HIV and AIDS; nutrition; and water sanitation and hygiene (WASH). The project’s vision was that by the end of 2016, families in Malawi would be better able to advocate for their own health, practice positive health behaviors, including timely use of essential health package (EHP) services, and would be engaging with a responsive health care system. Coordinated SBCC systems would be in place within national, district and community level structures accompanied by broad stakeholder commitment, leveraged funding and sustained institutional leadership.
Implementation of project activities was guided by a research based SBCC strategy, which was developed in collaboration with the MOH and other key stakeholders in Malawi. The strategy was based on the social ecological framework, which posits that individual, household, social network, community and national factors affect the health and wellbeing of individuals and families by influencing directly or indirectly those individuals’ and families’ ability or propensity to act. SSDI-Communication used the life stages approach to segment key audiences and this enabled health communication to focus on what was most relevant to people at various points in their lives. Four key life stages were identified in the SBCC Strategy as follows: young married couples; parents of under five children; parents of older children; and adolescents.
The challenge with SSDI-Communication’s multiple health topics and audiences was how to ensure proper coordination of campaign activities amongst various partners and consistent harmonization of messages for the four life stages throughout the implementation period. To address this potential challenge, SSDI-Communication and the MOH used formative research to develop a creative unifying concept that energized all partners and facilitated effective coordination and harmonization of all SBCC activities and messages.
The unifying platform, Moyo ndi Mpamba, Usamalireni (life is precious, take care of it), was a three-year multi-level multimedia campaign. The brand name resonated with Malawian culture and values. Its literal translation, ‘life is capital/investment’, was likened to business capital which must be handled with care to ensure that that the investment/ business prospers. This brand united the following materials and activities that integrated health messages from six priority EHP areas: