MEDIA RELEASE: WITS School of Public Health and The Soul City Institute for Health & Development Communication

The Wits School of Public Health and the Soul City Institute launch a Division of Social and Behaviour Change Communication – an African first

Thursday, 26 August 2010: The Wits School of Public Health and the Soul City Institute for Health & Development Communication today launched a Division of Social and Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC). This field of study is the first of its kind at a masters level in a School of Public Health in Africa.

According to John Molefe, Soul City Institute Marketing and Public Affairs executive, “There is a growing need for quality health communication interventions to ensure social and behaviour change in Southern Africa. The Soul City Institute has been strengthening the capacity of partner NGOs in nine countries in Southern Africa over the last eight years and an urgent need was identified for quality, accredited SBCC training in the region.

“We know that qualified people will make a tremendous difference to all countries that participate. Since we have begun this initiative, all courses offered have been over-subscribed from across the continent.”

Nicola Christofides of Wits Public Health explains the motivation for this educational stream, “Sub-Saharan Africa has many preventable illnesses. These include HIV/Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Issues in the region relate to maternal health, infant mortality and an increase in the newly developing epidemic of chronic diseases. There are social and behavioural factors that impact these health issues. Communication is central to ensure the success of health interventions, ranging from immunisation, male circumcision to the prevention of mother to child transmission.

“Social and behaviour change communication has a critical role to play in addressing the social and behavioural aspects of health. Skills are required in applying social and behavioural theory to a range of interventions that include social mobilisation, advocacy, social marketing, and edutainment, monitoring and evaluation. Healthcare and communications practitioners and institutions that would like to develop and implement social and behaviour change communication in sub-Saharan Africa should apply for our programmes.”

The following short courses are on offer:

  • Applying development, social and behavioural theory to practice
  • Social and behaviour change communication approaches
  • Communication, media and society
  • Planning and implementing social and behaviour change communication programmes
  • Research, monitoring and evaluation of social and behaviour change communication
  • Introduction to health promotion

The centre is supported by UKAid, Pepfar, USAID’s Communication for Change (C-Change) and its partners, the Soul City Institute for Health and Development Communication, Ohio University and the University of Roskilde in Denmark. ENDS

For further information, interviews or photographs, please contact Michelle K Blumenau, Onyx Marketing Communications T 011 728 5004 / 083 273 9891 / michelle@turquoisepr.co.za

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