A group led by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Communication Programs has been awarded $127 million by the U.S. government to implement a five-year global project designed to use strategic communication to fight infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria; improve maternal and child health; and reduce fertility in the developing world.
The award from the U.S. Agency for International Development will fund activities such as large-scale use of mass media linked to community mobilization and outreach programs promoting healthy behaviors by both individuals and communities. The Global Communication Partnership team includes JHU/CCP, the Academy for Educational Development, Save the Children, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, Tulane University's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
"This award demonstrates USAID's commitment to including strategic communication in international programs designed to improve public health," said Jane Bertrand, JHU/CCP's director. "Our communication programs are evidence-based, built on best practices worldwide and focused on innovations that advance the field of public health. We look forward to this new challenge to help foster a healthier world."
Helping to implement the project worldwide will be dozens of partners based in the developing world and several global joint programming partners. Among them are Sesame Workshop, Procter & Gamble, the World Council of Churches, the BBC World Service Trust and the Discovery Channel's Global Education Fund.
"Our partners on the ground in developing countries are essential to the successful implementation of this project," said Jose Rimon II, a faculty member at the Bloomberg School of Public Health and project director for the new partnership. "Over time, the project aims to build the capacity of local institutions in developing countries so they are able to combat public health threats on their own with minimal outside help."
As an example, Rimon cited JHU/CCP's support of youth groups in Zambia that developed and launched a successful program with a balanced approach of promoting abstinence, consistent condom use and delayed sexual debut to reduce HIV/AIDS prevalence among young people.
"With this new project, the partnership will be able to develop innovative programs along the lines of the Zambian model to empower local institutions and communities to become producers of their own health," he said.
The new project builds upon JHU/CCP's experience with implementing behavior-change communication interventions globally under the multimillion-dollar Population Communication Services project, which is funded by USAID and expires in March 2003. But the Global Communication Partnership will reach beyond individual behavior change to influencing social norms, improving the quality of health systems and creating a stronger policy environment.