Strengthening Group-Based Interpersonal Communication through Innovative Approaches

Post by: Caroline Sugg, Head of Special Projects (Policy & Learning), BBC Media Action

On a recent trip I made to Fatehpur Village in Bihar in rural India, the health workers I met were excited to tell me all about a new tool they were using to help new Mums prepare for childbirth, breastfeed their babies and vaccinate their children.

The health workers spoke about how they used to have to walk around their village and put a lot of effort into persuading women to come to the monthly government-run Village Health and Sanitation Days (VSHNDs). The introduction of GupShup Potli (A Bag Full of Chatter) – a new service developed by BBC Media Action – changed things.


Women in Bihar, northern India, gather to listen to the GupShup Potli service.

GupShup Potli is a service consisting of short, dramatized ‘audio-capsules’ that health workers can play on speakers connected to their basic mobile phones. The content was carefully designed to draw women’s attention in the crowded and noisy VSHNDs. A catalogue-based approach allows the health worker to choose the episode they think will most suit the women at a given meeting and access it on their phone by dialing a toll-free number.

The health workers I met were happy to report that women now go out of their way to make it to the VSHNDs to listen to the advice the drama contains and talk it through with their peers. When data was last collected, the service was being used in over 15,000 villages in the state of Bihar each month, without the need for expensive new equipment.

Group discussion sessions such as these are frequently included in health communication programmes, and innovative approaches to this group-based communication can significantly impact participation and outcomes. Join BBC Media Action and the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs from October 25-27 on Springboard for Health Communication Professionals as we explore ‘what’s new’ in this traditional approach to health communication practice:

  • What do we expect group discussions to achieve and what evidence do we now have to back this up?
  • What do we know about the factors that determine whether these interactions will have an impact on health in the communities we work with?
  • How is technology helping us share information, stimulate conversations and support healthy lifestyles?
  • What have we learnt about how to implement group discussion sessions at scale in a way that is cost-effective?

Don’t miss your opportunity to share your thoughts on how work with group discussions is evolving and engage with others about the innovative work you are doing.

You must be a registered Springboard member to participate. To register:

More about the facilitators:

caroline-suggCaroline Sugg has worked in media and communication for 20 years and joined BBC Media Action in 2003. She has designed SBCC projects across Asia and Africa with a particular focus on reproductive, maternal and child health. She is a passionate advocate for the role of creative communication approaches in transforming the lives of women and girls.
andinetAndinet Bayissa is Head of Programmes at BBC Media Action Ethiopia office. For over 8 years, Andinet has been working on the design and implementation of innovative projects focusing on reproductive and maternal health. He has also worked as a Community Mobilization manager, SBCC manager, and Marketing manager. In these roles, he was responsible for the design, implementation, and evaluation of SBCC interventions. He is a development practitioner with an MA degree in Development Studies.
priya-headshotPadmapriya Sastry has over 11 years of experience in communication and project management in public health, child rights, human rights and refugee rights. She is currently working as a Senior Project Manager with BBC Media Action (India) on a maternal and child health project to improve health seeking behaviour and the adoption of positive family health practices in the state of Bihar.
janeJane Brown has over 20 years’ experience in development communication and production, with an emphasis on gender, HIV and AIDS, adolescent reproductive health and malaria, as well as program management and mass media. Areas of expertise include developing social and behavior change communication (SBBC) strategies, radio distance learning programs, video production, and community based media approaches. She was one of the principle innovators of the African Transformation methodology which enables women and men to explore underlying gender barriers and develop realistic solutions to practicing positive health behaviors and a key member of the Go Girls! team, a special Pepfar initiative addressing girls’ vulnerability to HIV in 3 countries. As Team Leader, she currently oversees the regional Mano River Program as well as Pakistan.
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