The Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP) designed the overall school net program (SNP) campaign under the Communication and Malaria Initiative in Tanzania (COMMIT) project in 2012 in collaboration with the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP), the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MoHSW) Health Education and Promotion Section, and partner organizations. The initial campaign included four radio spots, posters, and brochures.
The implementation of SNP timed specific messages for before distribution, during distribution, and after distribution for each annual campaign. These timed messages were integrated into radio spots, the Patapata children’s radio program, and through community mobilization activities. Pre-distribution messages focused on describing SNP and how it worked. Messages during distribution focused on reminding school children to keep their net safe and to take it home to their parents, along with messages on net use. After distribution, messages focused on proper net use, net care and repair, and sharing of nets.
The campaigns phased approach to messaging ensured that messages were timed specifically to coincide with the three phases of the distribution process: before distribution, during distribution, and after distribution.
The program used school-aged children as agents of change within their families and communities. Through the Patapata radio program, children were inspired to talk to their parents, friends, and communities about malaria prevention behaviors such as sleeping under a net every night, proper net use, net care and repair, and net sharing. Anecdotal feedback from Community Change Agents indicated that children enjoyed the program, and that parents reported increased interpersonal communication with their children about the importance of sleeping under the nets they were given at school.
Additionally, the campaign focused on framing long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs) as community resources that should be shared not just with family members, but neighbors and community members that might not have a net. By distributing multiple nets to the same school children over three consecutive years, many families ended up with more nets than they needed, and they were encouraged to share those nets with other families that did not have school-aged children. Net sharing messages were creatively developed by drawing on popular “sharing” beliefs that exist in Tanzania, such as kizuri kula na mwenzio: “sharing is caring.”