The BRIDGE II Project in Malawi facilitated a workshop on Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) in April in order to educate journalists and encourage accurate reporting.
VMMC is a medical procedure for men and male adolescents that can reduce the risk of contracting HIV by approximately 60%. The workshop was run by BRIDGE II in collaboration with the Ministry of Health as part of on-going efforts to promote VMMC as an important component of a national strategy to prevent HIV transmission in Malawi.
The goal of the workshop was to enable reporters to produce accurate and engaging stories about VMMC and help counter misinformation and aid readers to better understand the procedure. As Peter Roberts, BRIDGE II Senior Program Officer, explained when he discussed the workshop with the Malawi News Agency, BRIDGE II’s aim was not to use the workshop to push journalists to promote VMMC, but rather to present it accurately in their news stories.
Workshop participants learned the facts about VMMC, VMMC’s role in reducing the risk of HIV infection in men, and other health benefits for both men and women. Journalists were provided scientifically accurate sources for their news stories about VMMC and were encouraged to explore the personal stories of men and their partners who had gone through circumcision. Population Services International (PSI), arranged a visit for the journalists to a VMMC clinic to witness firsthand how the full procedure takes place.
The workshop was a part of BRIDGE II’s VMMC campaign, “Ndife Otsogola” (“We are forward thinking”), which portrays communities and individuals who opt for VMMC as forward thinking. The campaign logo combines “thumbs up” and “hats off” imagery with the colors of the Malawian flag (green, red and black) to communicate that VMMC is a positive and beneficial choice for all Malawians.