Changing Lives through Film: An Innovative Approach to Adolescent Health in Zambia

I’m Michelle Kanene, the Project Coordinator for the SCREEN project in Zambia. Together  with our partners the Zambian Ministry of Health, Vitol Foundation and SAfAIDS Zambia, we’ve embarked on a fascinating three-year journey to develop SCREEN, using health education films to create real social change.

Our project has seen the development of five films on adolescent sexual reproductive health, mental health, and gender, available in three local languages – Lozi, Bemba and Nyanja. Using local young actors, the films successfully resonate with young people in Zambia.

The Success of Film Screenings: Engaging Zambia’s Youth

Public, free film screenings have been a unique aspect of the SCREEN project. Conducted twice a week and held at youth-friendly spaces in Kabwe and Kapri Mposhi, they provide an engaging and safe space for adolescents to explore and discuss their sexual and reproductive health. Guided by a trained facilitator, these sessions are pivotal for the empowerment of our young people, arming to provide them with accurate information to make informed decisions.

The attendance has been nothing short of overwhelming. Our partners’ excellent systems to mobilise adolescents, coupled with the contagious excitement spreading among friends and relatives, have filled the screening venues beyond our expectations.

One of our films, “Being a Father”, portrays a man doing what has traditionally been considered a “woman’s job”, such as cleaning and taking babies to the clinic. It filled me with joy to see how it was a hit among young men from rural areas. One young man, after watching the film, immediately invited his brother, a young father, to watch it. This brother later shared with me how he’s now more involved in his baby’s life, realising that he and his girlfriend are partners and should support each other. “I’m a better father because of the film,” he said with a proud smile.

These screenings have been an indisputable success. Young people have told me how these films have increased their knowledge on sexual reproductive health and mental health and even changed their perspective on gender roles. 

Looking Ahead: Expanding the Reach of Global Health Education

The Medical Aid Films team is now looking forward to extending the screenings to every province in Zambia. This approach, with its focus on the exciting medium of film, offers a vibrant alternative to the usual information channels of posters, leaflets and books. Our journey has been remarkable so far, and we’re excited about the potential for even greater impact in the future. 

Donate to our emergency fund to help us bring sexual and reproductive health content to more young people in the area.