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Tobacco Harm Reduction Goes Live on Community Radios in Malawi

Morton Manjawira interviewing a project participant during a pilot test in Mchinji

By Morton Manjawira

Another incremental victory in the many leading up to the big one for THR Malawi! Under the auspices of Knowledge-Action-Change Scholarships, we have launched radio jingles that seek to disseminate the utility and substitute value of Nicotine and Safer Nicotine Products (SNP) respectively. These Jingles are strictly on Community Radios in select districts and are set to run for a year. For context, Community radios are the easiest way to reach the rural populace. According to The Malawi Population and Housing Census (2018) and The Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction (GSTHR) respectively, this marginalized and rural population forms 80% of the country’s population as well as ground for disproportionate non-communicable diseases and deaths resulting from Tobacco consumption.

Echoing the former sentiment, Joseph Zalinga,a seasoned presenter at M’mudzi Wathu Radio in Mchinji expressed optimism about the Radio’s level of reach and engagement.

“At the moment, we have 54 Radio Listener’s Clubs with at least 20 participants each. Outside that, we are in every part of Mchinji and a niche of Zambia that borders Malawi.”

Setup in 2006 with seed funding from USAID,M’mudzi Wathu Community Radio was originally a Harm Reduction tool for HIV/AIDs intended to reach thousands of people in a short period.

Meanwhile, in the spirit of  “Nothing about us, without us” championed by a lot of Harm Reduction advocates. Tobacco Harm Reduction Malawi Scholars also undertook a pilot test of the Jingle prior to official airing within communities neighboring M’mudzi Wathu Radio. One of the randomly selected participants, Jakobo Semu, was full of praise for the Jingle and choice of Radio.

“This sounds great! The take home message is very clear on Nicotine. In fact, my wife and I always tune in to this Radio station” he told the scholars.

Sharing this level of this enthusiasm, is Chimwemwe Ngoma, Project Leader for THR Malawi.

“I think it is a timely feat, a step in the right direction, especially when you consider the fact that we are constantly plagued by misinformation and propaganda. This is a big plus on our end”

It is expected that the full report on this Radio campaign will be available in or around April of 2022.

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