Linking People to VMMC Services
BRIDGE II, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, took a lead role in creating demand for VMMC. The project branded the VMMC campaign; produced and distributed VMMC materials; harmonized VMMC messages throughout the country; built the capacity of media houses to report on and promote VMMC and provided technical support to national and district level stakeholders on community mobilization for VMMC.
Objectives for VMMC Demand Creation under BRIDGE II were:
- To increase levels of knowledge on the benefits of VMMC.
- To increase demand for uptake of VMMC services.
- To create an enabling environment for VMMC and foster its widespread acceptance.
- To increase consistent safer sexual practices post-VMMC.
Developing the Malawi VMMC Brand
At national level, BRIDGE II led stakeholders in developing the Malawi VMMC brand that identified the campaign and compelled its target audience to access VMMC. The project produced a campaign name
“Ndife Otsogola” which portrays a community and individual who is forward thinking and would choose to go for beneficial interventions being promoted without hesitancy. This goes along with the “thumbs up” and “hats off” illustrations which connotes something being well done. The Malawi flag colors, green, red and black on the campaign logo communicate to all that this service is for all Malawians. BRIDGE II produced three different posters aimed at young men, older men and couples; five leaflets for traditional leaders, faith based leaders, women, young men and older men; VMMC radio spots and a VMMC flip chart for use by service providers during VMMC counselling sessions.
Supporting districts and communities for VMMC
In the first two years of its involvement on VMMC, the project created demand for VMMC services in three (Phalombe, Mulanje and Thyolo) of its eleven implementation districts. The project used high intensity and low intensity activities, to reach people with motivating VMMC messages. High intensity activities happened during VMMC mass campaign periods within a Health Center catchment area a week before circumcision services are available. Activities included: open days that featured testimonials, interactive drama performances, traditional dances speeches and poems; VMMC road shows; football matches; school festivals; and evening VMMC video shows when the project used a story from its African Transformation Toolkit (1) to motivate people to go for VMMC. Community Referral Agents referred clients for VMMC services while CBO networks registered people requesting VMMC in their communities and sent the list to District Health Offices to call for an outreach VMMC site. The project distributed VMMC posters and leaflets during these high intensity activities. Low intensity activities happened on an ongoing basis in all BRIDGE II communities and they included Village Discussion Group sessions on VMMC using the Tasankha Discussion Guide; and through Traditional Leaders Forums where they advocated for VMMC whenever they met their subjects.
Before the start of all these activities, BRIDGE II briefed all stakeholders at district level, including the District Executive Committee, workplace institutional leadership, Education Division Managers, Secondary and Primary school leadership and Extended Traditional Leaders Forums on the proposed campaign for their buy in. The project also oriented structures that it worked with at community level to equip them with the correct information on VMMC. They consequently worked as VMMC information points in their communities during the campaign.
Coordinating Demand Creation Activities at National Level
From 2013 to 2014, BRIDGE II, together with the Health Education Services of the Malawi Ministry of Health, coordinated demand creation activities at the national level. The project assisted PEPFAR-funded implementing partners with demand creation plans and made sure that all partners were following the demand creation model that was developed. BRIDGE II was also involved in conducting supervisory field visits together with Health Education Services and providing feedback to district demand creation teams on their efforts and making recommendations were necessary. The project also conducted a refresher training for Information, Education and Communication Officers and District Mobilization Officers on how to conduct demand creation activities. Additionally, after service providers started doing demand creation activities, BRIDGE II oversaw their work in conjunction with Health Education Services.
VMMC Media Capacity Building
BRIDGE II built the capacity of media houses on how they can professionally report on VMMC. The project developed a VMMC Media Guide to direct media institutions for effective and accurate reporting and coverage around VMMC. The project then conducted a three day training session for journalists and editors, based on the Guide. A site visit during the training gave participants an opportunity to witness VMMC services in action.
BRIDGE II also participated in VMMC coordination meetings with all other stakeholders in the country: Ministry of Health personnel, representatives from USAID and VMMC service providers. The meetings were essential for planning VMMC promotion activities and to review the progress of specific activities within the VMMC campaign.