The Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs is leading the Health Communication Component in Pakistan, an initiative that works to improve maternal, newborn and child health and family planning in the country’s southeastern Sindh province.
The project envisions a Pakistan where individuals, families and communities advocate for their own health, practice positive health behaviors and engage with a responsive health care system. Central to accomplishing those goals is the development of the “Bright Star” campaign. A “Bright Star” is someone working to improve the health of his or her family, community or country. An aspirational mass media campaign and comprehensive approach to community mobilization encourages people to come together to spark meaningful behavior change to improve maternal and child health.
The Health Communication Component is also working to develop programs to assist Pakistanis with advocating for a stronger health care system in their country.
Since it began in 2014, the Health Communication Component has:
- Helped develop the popular television serial Sammi, which used engrossing characters and engaging storytelling to raise awareness of social issues and prejudices rarely discussed in mainstream Pakistani society. Sammi has reached more than 9 million viewers through television and social media.
- Created a toolkit designed to engage in discussions around the issues of gender, health and social norms raised by the TV drama.
- Developed mobilization tools – both print and digital – to help frontline health workers counsel their clients and lead community meetings on issues of maternal and child health, nutrition and immunization as well as family planning. One such tool, the IPC toolkit, equipped more than 7,500 health workers to reach more than 2 million community members.
- Established partnerships, including with local universities, to help Pakistanis create their own behavior change programming.
- Implemented a family planning campaign that reached more than 95,000 people through community fairs and more than 10 million people through mass media, including two short films. The successful campaign spurred an increase in referrals for family planning from 8,230 to 11,686 per month.