Emily Yona

Emily Yona

EmilyYona_edited

It was just as if they had made the program for me

– Emily Yona

In mosquito-ridden southern Malawi, Emily Yona lives with her two children and her husband, who works cutting wood for construction companies. Despite his job, they often struggled with hospital bills because their children were frequently diagnosed with malaria and needed emergency treatment. Emily could not understand why and wasn’t sure what to do.

One Thursday night, Emily happened to tune into the Moyo ndi Mpamba (Life is Precious) radio drama. The show was produced by the Ministry of Health in Malawi as part of the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs-led Support for Service Delivery Integration (SSDI) project, designed to help the people of Malawi understand they can adopt healthy behaviors through small, doable steps.

“It was just as if they had made the program for me,” Emily recalls. “They were talking about the need to sleep under an insecticide-treated mosquito net every night all year round.”

The program featured a character named Nasilina who becomes ill with malaria because she doesn’t sleep under a mosquito net. Right away, something clicked for Emily. “This is exactly what we were doing,” she says. “I made a decision that I and my family are going to sleep under a mosquito net every night throughout the year.”

The family had mosquito nets but saw them just as materials for decoration. But the radio show prompted Emily to change her family’s behavior. Now, those nets are being used for their true purpose. Late-night hospital visits have stopped. And Emily can feel comfortable heading into the village for tomatoes and leaving her children behind to play.

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