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Using art for change

‘Sankhani Moyo’ drama episode set to premiere

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PROMOTING BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE— Some of the scenes in the play

Art has for a long time been neglected in the country when it comes to getting support and yet it has played a crucial role in disseminating key information to the masses.

People have changed their behaviours through art having watched for instance drama series on television or listened to radio drama.

Although other sectors have sidelined arts in their programmes, Ministry of Health has found arts to be a true friend as well as an asset when it comes to sensitising people about health issues.

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This has seen Ministry of Health partnering with different players to reach out to people with messages.

With the world battling Covid-19 pandemic which continues to claim lots of lives, Ministry of Health just as it has done with other diseases in reaching out to the people to follow different measures, has decided to come out with five drama episodes that are set to premiere on television and radio next week Wednesday.

Titled Sankhani Moyo (Choose Life), Ministry of Health has partnered a Non-Profit organisation – Applied Development Communications and Training Services (Adecots) to create these drama episodes.

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Acting Deputy Director of Preventive Health Services responsible for Health Education Service in the Ministry Health, Mabvuto Thomas, said they were happy to bring out the drama episodes that have raised a lot of issues.

“Covid-19 pandemic is real but there has been a lapse as regards following the preventive measures and so, this is why we thought of coming up with the play. We are putting up a human face to the pandemic by using different channels and using drama is key,” Thomas said.

He observed that there was relaxation in terms of preventive measures in the country.

“People should expect a lot of exciting things in the play. Through the play, people will get excited and as they are getting excited, they will be discussing the pandemic but also following the preventative measures,” Thomas said.

He said through the play they are anticipating to get feedback from the community and that this will also help them build on what issues to follow in the play.

“We will be monitoring feedback and look at what are the gaps as well as the mirth and misconceptions. We are dealing with Covid-19 pandemic but there are other diseases that we also need to focus on and we will continue using various services and channels with art included,” Thomas said.

He said having targeted television and radio, they will also be extending the play to other social platforms with the aim of reaching out to everyone.

“We are looking at having a comprehended version that can be used for other media and in this case we are looking at having it on flash disks to share to listening clubs and all this is to make sure that they watch or listen to the play,” Thomas said.

He said for them art has always been their tool when looking at behavioral change communication.

“Art has always scored points when it comes to bring about change, as people get excited then you expect them to discuss the issues.

All we are saying is that Covid-19 pandemic is real, there are a lot of local transmissions and we need to treat each and every personal as a potential carrier and then follow precautionary measures,” Thomas said.

He also called upon those, who are positive to strictly adhere to quarantine measures in the fight against spread of the virus.

Adecots Executive Director, Mercy Simbi, said they were happy to work with Ministry of Health in the drama episodes stressing that the first five episodes are giving background of the pandemic as well as bring it into reality.

“From the title itself, this is more like a conspiracy theory to choose life or death and this is actually derived from the Book of Deuteronomy. We are looking at all the behaviours that we do,” Simbi said.

She said the play was there to contribute towards the reduction of transmission of the pandemic by raising awareness, increasing risk perception and promoting attitude, behavior as well as practice change among targeted populations.

Adecots which has also worked with musicians such as Evans Meleka, Eliza Mponya and Ahmmed Pillow, said people have a choice to choose between life and death and that in the play, which has got lots of twists, they were encouraging people to choose life.

“In a nutshell, we have two kingdoms where there is death and other vices discussing a community and then we have in the other kingdom life where there are vices such as health, hygiene, and medicines. These are personified, coming as human beings discussing us. Let me not pre-empting everything but I invite people to the play,” Simbi said.

According to her, the play will air on different radio stations including those in the community and various television stations including state broadcaster MBC.

“Our approach in using art is that art is exciting and where people get excited, it means they will always remember something that triggered that excitement so that they can adopt it. We have worked very hard to put these drama episodes together as well as bring them to light,” she said.

Actors have worked hard to show their skills in the play that will have the same issues airing on radio as well as television.

“We will be coming out with the names of the radios and television stations but the premiere is next week Wednesday,” she said.

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