South Sudan – Raising awareness of key health issues

Increasing awareness of key maternal and child health issues in fragile states

Our films are often valued by communities in unstable and volatile countries, providing women and their families who are deprived of basic health education with accessible, relevant and potentially lifesaving knowledge. An example of this is the use of our films in South Sudan to increase the awareness amongst women of the benefits of proper nutrition and correct pre and postnatal care.

Communities living in countries affected by conflict frequently have no or limited access to education or health care, which leads to low health literacy. Women particularly need education around pregnancy, child birth and child health so that they can protect themselves and their families. This need has been demonstrated by the popularity of our screenings in remote communities in Jonglei and Lakes regions in South Sudan. Community workers from our partner Africa Education Trust report that the films are encouraging positive changes in the health practices of local women and girls. The films are also popular amongst men, with some men and adolescent boys even taking part in subsequent discussion sessions. Traditional birth attendants, who exert significant influence in terms of local maternal and child health practices, have been positively influenced by our films and are encouraging women to seek medical care both during and after pregnancy. According to our partner, there is a real desire from local communities to share these films with other groups of women throughout the country.

As is common in other countries, the films are also shown in hospital waiting rooms and areas whilst patients wait to receive treatment – often to an average of more than 100 attendees per week. These screenings not only provide an environment to disseminate health information but also facilitate the creation of impromptu learning groups where women can share and discuss their own individual experiences and knowledge. These groups also provide the perfect setting in which to show other educational films. For example, women in South Sudan have subsequently been encouraged to be more vocal about the challenges that they face as a result of watching women’s rights films during these group gatherings.