Shuga, a radio serial drama launched in Tanzania

By Alice Ijumba

Shuga

On July 26, 2014 at Samora Stadium in Iringa, Southern Highlands, Tanzania, crowds of young people joined Iringa regional authorities, the Tanzania Commission for HIV/AIDS (TACAIDS), UN officials, USAID/PEPFAR partners, community service organizations, and other stakeholders to mark the launch of Shuga Radio, a radio serial drama designed to promote HIV testing and counseling (HTC) and post-test services and encourage correct and consistent condom use among youth people aged 15-24 years.

On July 26, 2014 at Samora Stadium in Iringa, Southern Highlands, Tanzania, crowds of young people joined Iringa regional authorities, the Tanzania Commission for HIV/AIDS (TACAIDS), UN officials, USAID/PEPFAR partners, community service organizations, and other stakeholders to mark the launch of Shuga Radio, a radio serial drama designed to promote HIV testing and counseling (HTC) and post-test services and encourage correct and consistent condom use among youth people aged 15-24 years. Shuga also covers issues on positive prevention, gender inequality and sexual violence, transactional sex, alcohol abuse and the role of multiple concurrent partnerships in driving the HIV epidemic.

Shuga Radio 1Speaking at the launch, Acting Regional Commissioner for Iringa Dr Leticia Warioba observed that, “HIV prevalence among youth between 15-19 years has not decreased for the past five years because many lack correct information and skills on how to protect themselves against HIV and unintended pregnancies.” According to the Tanzania HIV and Malaria Indicator Survey (THMIS 2011/12), overall 2% of young women and men age 15- 24 years are HIV positive – that means 1 in every 50 youth. Girls are almost three times more likely to be HIV-positive than boys the same age, and a girl’s risk of contracting HIV increases tremendously – almost 340% – between 15-19 and 20-24 years. In the Southern and Southwest Highlands regions of Iringa, Njombe and Mbeya, the burden of HIV is even higher- with about 1 in 10 adults HIV positive. In Tanzania, only 2 in 10 boys and 3 and 10 girls reported HTC in the past 12 months, and 56% reported using a condom at last higher-risk sex, hence Shuga radio will create demand for HTC and condom use, and will complement other ongoing HIV prevention interventions reaching youth, including voluntary medical male circumcision.

Shuga Ambassador Faraja Kota Nyalandu encouraged the crowd of young people to keep on repeating the campaign slogan “Get Tested, Use Condoms, and Be Smart!” Serenaded by young pop stars Izzy B and Ben Paul, who both did a great job reminding young people to adopt safer behaviours for HIV prevention. Participants also attended small group sessions on HIV/sexual reproductive health and condom demonstrations provided on the grounds by PEPFAR partners T-MARC, JHU-CCP, and PSI. HTC services were provided on the ground by AMREF and Iringa Mercy Organization. A total of 436 people age 15 and above tested for HIV, 294 of whom were youth aged 15-24 years.

Shuga Radio 3Over the coming 12 weeks, Shuga Radio will be aired nationally on Clouds FM, and will reach out to youth in rural areas through 10 community radio stations: Kyela FM (Mbeya), Kwanza Jamii (Njombe), Kitulo (Makete), Sengerema (Mwanza), FADECO (Karagwe), Kahama FM (Shinyanga), Nuru FM (Iringa), Okonorei FM (Simajiro), Pambazuko FM (Ifakara) and Uvinza FM (Kigoma). Overall, Shuga radio is expected to reach an estimated 4,000,000 youth through radio coverage, social media, sms platforms and adolescent/youth radio listening clubs in the communities.

For more information about UNICEF in Tanzania please visit: http://www.unicef.org/tanzania/ and follow us on Facebook and Twitter #ShugaRadioTZ #UsiuzeMechi

Written by Alice Ijumba, UNICEF Tanzania