The Republic of Madagascar has infrastructural and distributional inequalities that deprive some communities from access to timely information. Despite the abundance of unique flora and fauna, the country remains challenged in terms of prosperity, and remains one of the least developed countries in the world.[i] Most of the rural Malagasy population have low literacy levels and lack a functioning mass communication infrastructure including access to radio, network coverage, and even electricity.
Health information mostly travels by word of mouth, which is prone to misinformation and misconceptions. Being exposed to misinformation, especially during a health emergency like the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, has severe consequences for the audiences’ health and well-being. To address the information void, the locally active nongovernmental organization (NGO) Doctors for Madagascar initiated a project named ‘Singing sensitization’. The project uses live music performances to disseminate evidence-based health information to rural Malagasy communities.
The project aims to raise awareness on health protection measures, educate the community on the risk factors of COVID-19, and debunk misinformation. Messages are communicated via songs in local dialects using a story-telling approach. Regular live performances are organized at central marketplaces in remote villages. The performances are followed by question-and-answer (Q&A) sessions guided by health care workers to provide people with tailored and reliable health information.
[i] World social report 2020: Inequality in a rapidly changing world. United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs; 2020 (https://www.un.org/development/desa/dspd/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/01/World-Social-Report-2020-FullReport.pdf).