Developing Participatory Health Communication Materials with the Action Media Approach

To many people gathered at the Protea Hotel, Action Media was an unheard-of new methodology they barely understood.

“I really want to know how [Action Media] works. It looks like an exciting concept,” noted one of the participants before the start of the learning forum.

Action Media: Targeted Participatory Materials Development with Audiences of Health Communication was the focus theme of the fifth Uganda learning forum held on Sept. 10, 2015. Sharing his thoughts on the topic, Jude Ssenyonjo, Technical Officer at Communication for Healthy Communities noted that Action Media as a methodological approach can be used to explore audience perspectives on different development issues.

Jude Ssenyonjo, Technical Officer for Communication for Healthy Communities, explains the Action Media approach.

“Action Media is relevant in improving health outcomes, including fostering critical thinking, problem-solving and development of health communication interventions and resources,” he said, adding that the approach saves time and resources, and creates a sense of ownership of the materials being developed.

During the forum, two panelists—Aggrey Muganga from MAAD Advertising and Jauhara Nanyondo from the Makerere University Walter Reed Project—shared their experience of using Action Media to collaboratively develop materials to promote antiretroviral therapy (ART) adherence for men in three districts of central Uganda.

Aggrey Muganga from MAAD Advertising displays one of the materials developed through the Action Media approach.

Muganga and Nanyondo demonstrated how they engaged target audience members to identify the major factors for non-ART adherence and then facilitated the development of communication materials which were later pretested across the country and used for an ART adherence campaign.

Unlike the traditional methods of message development, where indigenous solutions and ‘cultural rationalities’ are often overlooked in favor of professional or ‘expert’ knowledge, Action Media engages communities in identifying and proposing solutions themselves to their problems and how they should take action.

“Action media helps to understand people’s beliefs and values, and social-cultural norms that shape their lives, ensuring that those aspects are considered during the materials design,” said Ssenyonjo.

Participants appreciated the methodology with many planning to employ the methodology in their work.

“I think this is really different and innovative. We will try it in one of our sessions,” said Josephine, a regular forum participant.

The forum was attended by more than 50 participants and is the fifth in a series of forums jointly organized by AfriComNet and the Communication for Healthy Communities (CHC) project as part of their in-country Springboard efforts to foster learning and networking among the health and development communication community.

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