We can learn a lot from television. Sometimes the best teaching comes when presented in a dramatic form. Soap Operas have been a stable of American television for fifty years and their very structure brings form to understanding.
In many ways Soap Operas are the perfect delivery method for bringing light for difficult Public Health issues across the world.
Here’s an AIDS prevention example from South Africa:
The increasing spread of the HIV/AIDS has influenced the lives of thousands of families in Vietnam. HIV/AIDS is strongly associated with “Social evils” and at risk “groups”. “It won’t happen to me” is a common cry. CARE aimed to educate a mass number of people in Vietnam about HIV/AIDS through an entertaining, captivating television drama series which subtly portrays HIV/AIDS as “everyone’s disease.”
A joint project of Niger’s Broadcasting Corporation (ORTN) and UNICEF, the programme, titled ‘Soueba’, is a compelling serial drama that focuses on the lives of young people in Niamey, Niger’s capital. It follows their journey into adulthood, while exploring love, sex, betrayal and the realities of HIV/AIDS. With ‘Soueba’, UNICEF and its partners hope to use the soaring popularity of soap operas in West Africa to spread their message.
Ten radio stations in Ghana recently launched a pilot project that aims to promote awareness about HIV/AIDS through a soap opera, the Accra Mail/AllAfrica.com reports. The project is funded by the Ghana AIDS Commission under the National Innovation Program. It is implemented by the Centre for Development Communication.
A secondary data analysis of the evaluation survey of the Bolivia Social Marketing Program (BSMP) was conducted to compare demographic characteristics of three groups of respondents including those who were familiar with the television soap opera containing AIDS education messages, those who reported to have knowledge of AIDS, and those who reported to change their sexual behavior related to AIDS. The primary objective was to determine if any association between familiarity with the soap opera and AIDS related sexual behavior change.
Why do you think Soap Operas are such powerful conduits for conveying vital health information? Is it because we like and know the characters? Or is something else going on behind the scenes within us?
What other public health matters have you seen dealt with bluntly and dramatically on Soap Operas?