|© UNICEF Brazil/2006/ Bonacini|
|Maria José do Nascimento and her daughter are just two members of the over 300 families who had participated in Family Talks as of 2006.|
UNICEF’s yearly flagship report, The State of the World’s Children, which launched on 22 January 2008, makes a call to unite for child survival. Here is one in a series of related stories.
PALHANO, Brazil, 25 January 2008 – Principal Socorro Leni da Silva stands before the group of eager faces which have gathered in her classroom. On this afternoon, however, the room is not filled with her usual primary school pupils, but rather with their mothers. The women are waiting to be recorded for the UNICEF supported radio show, ‘Family Talks’.
Family Talks began in 2002 as an innovative experiment to spread community health messages through the medium of radio. The show features discussions with families on a wide range of topics, including child care, nutrition and breastfeeding.
“Through the radio, we transmit simple and helpful information, such as how to prevent diarrhoeal disease or prepare a rehydration solution,” said journalist Alessandra Oliveira, who moderates the discussions. “We also provide an opportunity for parents to talk about common difficulties and see how to overcome them together, as a group.”
Reaching thousands of families
Recorded discussions with women and families are the core component of each 30-minute broadcast. The show is also supplemented by interviews with health agents, teachers and other professionals.
Family Talks is now carried by approximately 62 radio stations throughout Ceará state – a region which lags behind the rest of the Brazil on key child health indicators. In 2006, an estimated 20,000 families had already been reached by the broadcasts.
The show was created by the Brazilian non-governmental organization ‘Catavento’, in partnership with UNICEF. It is an offshoot of a larger project called ‘Sharing knowledge, making dreams come true: Using radio to strengthen family and municipal competences.’
Change through radio waves
Back in the classroom, Principal Leni da Silva introduces one of today’s discussion topics: breastfeeding.
“It’s always good to talk and exchange ideas and experiences,” Ms. Leni da Silva says, encouraging the mothers present to participate. She knows that many of these women want advice on how to take care of their babies and young children.
Maria José do Nascimento, 38, is the first to share her thoughts. Her younger daughter has been breastfed.
“My daughter is very smart and has excellent health,” Ms. José do Nascimento says. “I think it’s because of the breast milk and all the attention I pay to her growth. We should breastfeed our babies, it protects them from many diseases.”
At the end of the discussion, several mothers also talk about how important it is to talk with children’s fathers about their role as a parent.
Family Talks reaffirms the importance of effective communication in facing community health challenges. Radio is proving to be a successful medium for spreading the word on child health and other issues in one of the most impoverished regions of Brazil.
The State of the World’s Children 2008
Order the report online from the UN Publications website
(external link, opens in a new window)