DMI’s Plans to Further Scale its Life-Saving Mass Media Campaigns

DMI’s Plans to Further Scale its Life-Saving Mass Media Campaigns

Remember that February 13 is World Radio Day. With your help, radios can save lives!

DMI is proud to announce that it has scaled up its highly cost-effective child survival radio campaigns in Burkina Faso and Mozambique. This scale-up will reach millions of listeners and is projected to save thousands of children’s lives.

  The sun blazes onto Tibandiba’s back as he harvests straw in Daikiri, Burkina Faso. Sweat gathers along the creases of worry on his face but he doesn’t notice. His mind is in his cool dark hut with his wife, who sits by their 4 year old daughter Marieta, swatting flies away from Marieta’s face and murmuring words of comfort to her. Marieta’s eyes are drooped shut and her small body shivers violently. Tomorrow she will slip into a coma and Tibandiba will consult a natural healer. He will spend his savings on traditional remedies that have no effect on Marieta’s condition, which worsens every day.   


Thankfully, Marieta’s story ends well. Tibandiba hears a DMI radio spot on a friend’s radio and recognises that he should take Marieta for malaria treatment at a health facility. She does not join the 15,000 children of the world who die every day, and today she is happy and healthy. You can watch a short video of her story here

As Peter Singer’s “Child in the Pond” thought experiment highlights, every year, 5.3 million children like Marieta die needlessly from mostly preventable conditions like malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia. DMI is committed to addressing this issue as cost-effectively as possible. We use mass media because it can reach millions of people at a time at a relatively low marginal cost. Our methodology involves conducting locally led formative research to tailor our health messages to the needs of our target audiences, and then broadcasting these messages at a high intensity, for a long time period, over a wide area. We aim for the low-hanging fruit, focusing on issues that are important, tractable and neglected. Our child survival campaign focuses on three of the biggest killers of children under five: malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia. It educates caregivers to recognise the symptoms of these illnesses in their children and encourages them to seek treatment when necessary.

DMI conducted a ground-breaking trial in Burkina Faso from 2011-2015 in partnership with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). Our treatment-seeking campaign led to increases in treatment for malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia of 56%, 73% and 39% respectively in the first year, all p<0.001, which corresponded to approximately 3,000 children’s lives saved over the course of the three-year radio campaign. At an estimated $7 – $27 per DALY (disability-adjusted life-year), this intervention is among the most cost-effective methods available for saving children’s lives. You can find an animation of the results on the DMI website. The results and a cost-effectiveness analysis have been published in BMJ Global Health.

This is the strongest evidence ever generated for the effect of a media campaign on health behaviours. It is a priority for DMI to scale up this powerful, evidence-based, cost-effective campaign to empower as many caregivers as possible with critical information about their children’s health.

All individual donations since the trial have directly funded the scaling up of this campaign in Burkina Faso at a national level, with co-funding from GiveWell. In addition, DMI secured funding to scale up the campaign to Mozambique.

We are delighted to announce that we have recently secured funding from The Light Foundation to extend campaigning in both Burkina Faso and Mozambique at national scale for an additional two years. We predict that this will save thousands of children’s lives and we hope that these campaigns will pave the way for expanding this intervention across the region.

All donations via The Life You Can Save will support DMI’s high impact campaigns in sub-Saharan Africa. You can read more about DMI here and donate here.

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Development Media International

Development Media International (DMI) is a recommended charity of The Life You Can Save. DMI uses radio and T.V. shows to influence family and societal awareness, attitudes and behaviors around crucial health issues in order to dramatically decrease morbidity and mortality from diseases such as malaria, diarrhea, pneumonia, HIV/AIDS and Trachoma.

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The views expressed in blog posts are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Peter Singer or The Life You Can Save.