CCI

Centre for Communication Impact
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Growing the next Generation of Health Communicators

Download the Presentation delivered at the EE Conference recently, Evolution and Outcomes of Entertainment Education Curriculum in The Centre for Communication Media and Society, University of KwaZulu-Natal<--break->There is a centre of excellence in Durban, where the next generation of influential public health communicators are being nurtured: the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS).

Download the Presentation delivered at the EE Conference recently, Evolution and Outcomes of Entertainment Education Curriculum in The Centre for Communication Media and Society, University of KwaZulu-Natal

There is a centre of excellence in Durban, where the next generation of influential public health communicators are being nurtured: the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS).

For the past decade, CCMS has been at the forefront of public health communication and entertainment education (EE) research in South Africa, and it is involved with many key programmes in the field of HIV and AIDS communication, delegates to the 5th Entertainment Education Conference, held in India between 17 and 20 November 2011, were told.

In the past five years alone, CCMS has produced eight doctoral theses, more than 25 masters dissertations and over 100 honours research projects. Its staff and students have also produced numerous critical reviews and papers locally and internationally.

But its involvement in public health communication stretches back two decades. One of the first activities was the establishment in 1992 of DramAidE, which uses the performing arts to stimulate community responses to HIV and AIDS and other health-related issues. Today, DramAidE works across 21 tertiary institutions and schools in KwaZulu-Natal, using peer education to mobilise youth.

CCMS' involvement in the Department of Health's Beyond Awareness Campaign between 1995 and 2000 was the first opportunity by CCMS staff and students to assist on a national HIV/AIDS campaign, from a communication and cultural perspective. It yielded valuable research beyond simple awareness, into the cultural and socio-economic constraints to effective responses to the disease.

In 2001, CCMS went into partnership with Johns Hopkins Health and Education in South Africa (JHHESA), the Johns Hopkins University-affiliated health communications NGO.

From this partnership came one of the first courses to integrate EE - the use of entertainment to impart new health information, and reinforce existing knowledge - into a post-graduate communication degree. The purpose was to develop the next generation of South African and African leaders, researchers and academics in social and behavioural communication, drawing upon EE as a methodology.

This programme has evolved since then, from its original mandate to develop an understanding of key health promotion communication theories in relation to cultural and media studies, understanding South African EE case studies, developing EE outcomes criteria and applying theoretical knowledge to the development of EE activities.

Now, the EE programme has moved away from health promotion via EE, to a communication for participatory development (CFPD) model with emphasis on social and cultural factors, a focus on both change and how communication reinforces existing health behaviours, the monitoring and evaluation of public health communication programmes, and latterly, social media.

A total of 159 students have participated in the EE programme since 2002 and several graduates have moved into sectors related to EE and health education. These include education (10 graduates), the NGO sector (14), entertainment (four), journalism (six) and government (two). A further five graduates have become independent practitioners in the field of health communication.

Professor Ruth Teer-Tomaselli of CCMS, who made a presentation about its work to the EE Conference, says the CCMS EE programme addresses several distinctive needs in the field of health communication.

"Firstly, in an era where there is substantial audience fatigue in terms of HIV and AIDS communications, we have to come up with innovative ways to effectively communicate new information - and bolster existing knowledge levels. Entertainment education offers refreshing options to engage with society, in ways they can enjoy and to which they can relate, and in South Africa we have already done much groundbreaking work in this regard.

"But equally importantly, there is clearly a desperate need for successive generations of experts in this field, if we are to build on the successes already achieved, and stay ahead of the curve in terms of bringing relevant and powerful health communications to South Africa and further afield. At CCMS, we're particularly proud of the work we're doing in training and growing the finest possible minds in health communications," says Teer-Tomaselli.

JHHESA managing director Richard Delate, who helped to set up the EE programme, says he has also personally benefited from it.

"The EE course at CCMS has prepared me well as a practitioner to design, implement, monitor and evaluate strategic communication programmes. It enables me to put theory into practice, to test theory and to try new ideas," says Delate.

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