Strategic Communication for Better Health
Resource type: Grantee Story
In Viet Nam, the shift in the burden of diseases from the infectious causes to chronic and behaviour-based illnesses requires effective health communication to be an essential component of public health interventions. Traditional information, education and communication campaigns developed by the government continue to be the norm in public health information services in Viet Nam. These campaigns provide information for general audiences rather than targeted information based on comprehensive research that identifies obstacles and motivates behaviour change. Many considered these campaigns to be ineffective, lacking purpose and difficult to evaluate.
More importantly, health-sector communicators in Viet Nam lack the necessary skills to carry out effective health-promotion communication programmes. In 2005, an Atlantic-commissioned comprehensive feasibility study to the Center for Communication Programs of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health (CCP) confirmed an urgent need for developing a system to design, implement and evaluate effective strategic and systematic behaviour-change communication programmes.
Purpose and Impact of the Grant
Established in 2003, the Center for Community Research and Development (CCRD) is one of the first nongovernmental and nonprofit Vietnamese organisations to specialise in research and interventions for community health promotion and development. CCRD handles major health communication projects in Viet Nam, including working in partnership with CCP to develop and launch an innovative Atlantic-supported 26-episode television serial drama to motivate the adoption of healthy behaviours and practices in injury prevention, alcoholism, HIV/AIDS and maternal child health.
Atlantic’s grant is enabling CCRD to develop into one of the leading organisations in behaviour change communication, which will ultimately contribute to improving the health and lives of people throughout the country. During 2007 and 2008, CCRD’s goal has been to expand its capacity by hiring qualified professionals in health-communication planning and strategy development and to broaden its partnership with government agencies, research groups and communication specialists.
Since August 2007, with technical support of CCP, the Center for Community Research and Development designed and organised in-house training sessions in health communication research, evaluation and entertainment-education script development for more than 40 writers, television producers, public health workers, researchers and lecturers from various partner institutions within medical colleges, mass media, NGOs and the private sector throughout Viet Nam. CCRD has also started to upgrade its communication technology and facilities. In 2007, as a part of its leveraging efforts, CCRD received contracts for a number of major health communication projects. This work has provided additional revenue to support the organisation’s growth and created on-the-job training opportunities for CCRD staff to practice their skills in designing and evaluating behaviour-change communication programmes, as well as helping to strengthen its credibility in this field.
Through careful planning, ongoing monitoring and reassessing the planned activities on a regular basis, CCRD is ensuring that it remains on track to become the premier organisation for the research, design, production and evaluation of strategic health and development communication programmes in Viet Nam.