Partnering with local media to spread palliative care messages

Categories: In The Media.

Local media is one channel palliative care providers can capitalise on to raise awareness on what they are doing. Coast Hospice is not left behind in utilizing this great resource in passing messages to the community that they serve.

Jane Mwanyumba is the administrator at Coast Hospice and shares how they have used Pili Pili FM, a local radio station to pass their message to the public.

We approached the station with a view of hyping a play Beach Access by Kuldip Sondhi that was performed on 7th, 8th and 22nd March to raise funds for our hospice.

The station has listenership following its swahili language that is used by locals in the coastal region as well as Diaspora listeners online.

The station has a health program every Wednesday from 10.30 am to 1 pm discussing health issues. This presented an opportunity and when we approached them, they agreed to support us through radio spots, mentions and also allowed us to participate in the Chanchandu za taarab program on Wednesdays for four weeks.

Since nothing comes entirely for free, in exchange Pili Pili FM would have their logo on play tickets, posters and branding at the play venue.

Besides Pili Pili FM, we also work with other local radio stations. We have occasionally featured in Baraka Fm in an evening call-in show, Radio Salaam morning call show and Radio Rahma interviews.

For local newspapers, we work with Coast this Week.

Messages

We share patient stories to listeners as well as have an expert medical view from our hospice doctor/nurse. Pili Pili FM was particularly interested in different types of cancers besides breast cancer and we were able to disseminate the information sequentially for four weeks.

Within the airtime allocated, we have shared what palliative care is and its value to patients and families. It is through these media that we have demystified cancer myths especially on traditions and cultural issues, lifestyle, nutrition and stigmatization by imparting knowledge through sharing of correct information about cancer and other life limiting illnesses.

The community is also sensitized on the importance of screening and urging the listeners to participate in screening activities whenever they are availed to them.

The hospice has also used the platform to explain the services it offers and its location.

Other areas that we have had a chance to explain to the public are how they can support palliative care both at hospice and at patient levels. A life limiting illness can happen to anyone and our message to all is to make palliative care our business. We invited listeners to our play to be entertained while supporting a patient.

In four weeks we split our messages as follows;

Week 1: Cervical & Prostrate cancer patient story led by our Clinical Coordinator, Eric Amisi who covered symptoms, causes, treatments, psychosocial issues and answered questions from the listeners

Week 2: Skin cancer patients story led by our Board Member Dr Ben Ochieng’ who covered symptoms, causes, treatments, psychosocial issues and answered listener questions.

Week 3: Lower limp cancer & a caregiver story led by Eric Amisi who also shared information on the role of primary care givers who most times are family members. He also explained psychosocial support for caregivers and family members

Week 4: a story of courage and hope from a Breast Cancer patient after two surgeries and another from a spouse who is a caregiver. The session was led by our coordinator Eric Amisi who also explained the different stages of illness and the role of the spouse in care giving.

Approaching the Media

Reaching out to the media was not difficult as we had met journalists in other fora e.g. during World Aids Day, World Cancer Day and World Hospice and Palliative Care Day. We invite them to our daycare session and they are able to see what we are doing to support our patients.

Through journalist invitations to our daycare sessions, the media has shown interest in doing features on our hospice, patients and palliative care. We also issue press releases before our events.

Though donations are few, we invite the media to cover donations we receive from our supporters and well wishers. We also share our pictures especially from our day care sessions. Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has since imposed VAT on pro-bono ads/notices and this is becoming a setback for us but we intend to lobby the taxman to exempt hospices.

Local media is easy to reach and has a proactive community listenership that has challenges in the health sector and we try to offer a solution.

The local media is also trying to build a loyal customer base and we capitalize on this to educate the public who are seeking health information.

A call in show has provided us with real time communication to the community hence providing solution to those with concerns in our area of operation.

This partnership has created impact in the coastal region as we have received numerous phone inquiries, visits from patients and families as well as referrals from the journalist that we interact with.

Following this partnership, we shall have a radio programme slot twice a month at Pili Pili FM to talk about palliative care.

Recommendation

Hospices should engage the local media where they operate to create awareness on palliative care because it is widely believed that it is only for cancer patients. Through such partnerships, we shall garner support for fundraising from the local community.

We should also prompt our County governments, especially the health ministry for inclusion of palliative care in budgets, policies and provision of medicines. Kilifi County is good example as it has supported the establishment of Malindi sub county palliative care unit and is supporting the unit with medicine.

I am sure our concerted efforts will spread the word to the national health ministry and enhance policy formulation to support palliative care in the entire country.

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