09 Oct 2014

Community Dramas Encourage Life-Saving Habits

Community heath dramas help Rwandans make informed decisions about health, and to adopt healthier behaviors.


Liberata Nyirakanyana sits near her bed protected by a mosquito net.


“I can now confidently confess that without mosquito net, I don’t think I would still be alive.

  • Liberata Nyirakanyata

Liberata Nyirakanyana, is a 53 year old farmer and mother. She lives in Rwanda’s western district of Ngororero, and for many years had struggled under the weight of expensive bills due to her frequent attacks of malaria. The bills were many, and it left her and the grandson she cares for without enough money to pay for basic necessities like soap and salt.

She explains, “I thought that I was bewitched due to my frequent sickness, and also lost huge sums of money using traditional healers…who unfortunately didn’t help me at all.”

In the midst of her frequent bouts of sickness, Liberata learned of a drama show being put on by USAID’s Rwanda Social Marketing Program implemented through a local organization she was familiar with called the Society for Family Health. She knew of SFH’s programs to promote condom use for family planning, but the drama on malaria that they were doing in her community was different, and made a big difference for Liberata.

It was this community drama, through its healthy behaviors messaging that motivated her to visit her local health center, for a check-up. “It was from [the health center visit] that I learned I had malaria” she said. At the center, Liberata was able to get the testing and treatment she needed, and now knows through that experience and the drama that quick health center check-ups and sleeping under bed nets can save her from the misery of malaria – and allow her to use her income to support herself and her family.

Rwanda’s Ministry of Health, through the support of the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), has achieved universal coverage of insecticide-treated bed nets. Behavior change communication strategies, such as the drama Liberata saw, are also part of PMI’s efforts to prevent malaria in Rwanda.

Liberata now sleeps under a bed net each night, and lives a much healthier life.

“I pride myself in using mosquito nets now, as it has saved my life and living expenses. I can confidently confess that without a mosquito net, I don’t think I would still be alive.”