By Silvia Wazemba
Canadian-Ugandan rapper Lanie Banks partnered with the Uganda Network Of AIDS Service Organisations (UNASO) to advocate for better health in the second Yes We Can End Tuberculosis training which was held at Rocy Hotel in Mbale district from September 20 to 22, 2023.
Among the participants in the commemorative training were local celebrities from eastern Uganda.
The engagement of local celebrities was aimed at building up the project overall goal of building community health systems to address structural, cultural and social barriers for increased access to and utilisation of HIV & TB services.
Celebrities usually create a huge impact in society when involved in raising awareness because they inspire many people especially the young in society and it is one of the best ways of passing advocacy messages to the communities.
To orient the community members with facts on HIV and TB spread in commemoration of World TB Day, the local celebrities who hailed from Mbale, Bukwo, Busia and Tororo districts had to engage in contemporary skits in terms of drama and comedy for all ages.
The drama and skits aimed at portraying the characters with dignity and model positive behaviour that did not show women only as victims or men as monsters. Not only were the dramas meant to entertain but also to ensure that people were not laughing at or minimising HIV and Tuberculosis persons as this goes against the spirit of the dramas and the overall goal of world tuberculosis day.
The character names used in the dramas were selected in accordance with the community; the names were chosen to resonate with the community and audience in general.
The ideas chosen were take home ideas and hence easy to implement, the performers had to explain the ideas before, after every scene.
The dramas were kept relatively short about 30 minutes and no longer than 45minutes, including interactive discussions after each scene to ensure the facilitators and the performers would always streamline their performances and avoid unnecessary detail, keeping it focused and engaging on key issues like abstinence and stigma.
Debates and discussions were conducted after each session to encourage audience participation.
Lamu Edet, a co-facilitator with vast knowledge about controversial issues, mentioned that the dramas were non-judgmental and never portrayed extreme violence such as women being beaten or raped because it dehumanises the characters.
The skits aimed at letting the audience know SGBV, HIV Infection and TB contraction happened in other ways. To enable the audience share a language about what they actually experienced and help the audience to keep talking, reflecting about the Drama and skits in their daily lives and hence the skits covered only HIV/AIDs Awareness, TB Spread and SGBV Prevention.
Peace Nabududa, who was the lead facilitator at the three-day training, said it was tempting to desire solutions to problems presented by the story within the same drama, however, issues like violence against women change took time, leaving the story hanging was an excellent choice to keep people talking about the story line. She narrated further and disclosed that leaving a problem unsolved in a drama was an excellent way to involve the audience in a mini-discussion about how the characters would deal with challenges or support the characters if they were their family, friends or fellow community members.
The training came in handy to commemorate the world TB day, which was marked in Butaleja district, Uganda under the theme Yes! We Can End TB. This commemorative training was an opportunity to raise awareness about the burden of Tuberculosis (TB) worldwide and the status of TB Prevention and Care efforts. It was also an opportunity to mobilize Political and Social commitment for further progress in efforts to end TB.
During an internet video, call session with the training facilitators, Lanie Banks a major partner whose real name is Micheal Osings narrated that TB was the Ninth leading cause of death worldwide and the leading cause from a single infectious agent, ranking above HIV/AIDS. Over 25% of TB, deaths occur in the African Region. The emergence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) poses a major health security threat and could risk gains made in the fight against TB. He stated that World TB Day provided a platform for affected persons and Communities, Civil Society Organizations, Health-Care Providers, Policy Makers, Development Partners to Advocate, Discuss and plan further collaboration to fulfil the promise of reaching all people with quality TB prevention and care services as well as enabling TB prevention through Multi-Sectoral Development Efforts.
The general feedback of participants about trainers was very positive as majority of the participants fully agreed and were appreciative of trainer’s level of knowledge, style and presentation, preparation and research about the topics and the efficient use of training material. The participants admired that trainers who engaged participants in discussions and encouraged them to raise questions and not only this; the trainer’s overall behaviour towards participants was also good which made it easy for them to learn and understand. While sharing their opinion, participants said that all the sessions were informative and relevant to their area of interest. The training was lively and artistic in a way, Certificates were awarded to the participants to enable them mingle their way with lobbying and partnership skills. This equipped them with advocacy skills in a very positive way. IEC Materials as T-Shirts and Caps that have TB and HIV Advocacy Messages were availed to enable them do Social Behavioural Communication through Fashion.
The other action plans agreed upon during the training by the musician participants were sensitization of the fans through Music Compositions, Using Media platforms such as Radio, Television and social media messages about TB and HIV/AIDs coupled with involving other Health partners like Reproductive Health Uganda during public gatherings. Concerning SRHR –some promised to take their parents for cancer screening.