|Nutrition education for the public. Discussion papers of the FAO Expert Consultation (Rome, Italy, 18-22 September 1995) - FAO Food and Nutrition Paper 62 - (1997)|
|Past experiences and needs for nutrition education: Summary and conclusions of nine case studies|
|Summary of case studies|
3 C. Forrester
Although the countries of the region have a relatively small land surface, they are separated by vast expanses of water. The majority of English-speaking people who were targeted in this project are poorly literate. In 1983 FAO, the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) convened in Antigua to develop a Strategy and Plan of Action for Food Safety and Control in the Caribbean. This comprehensive strategy dealt largely with surveillance and control services and included an education and community participation strategy.
A preliminary study indicated that food-borne illness, especially diarrhoeal diseases, often initiates and aggravates malnutrition. The research also indicated the need to educate the population on the importance of proper handwashing; the protection of infected wounds/boils; the holding temperature of food (particularly with fast food and street vending); the dangers of the inadequate cooking of foods and the importance of maintaining a hygienic environment where food is prepared, sold, and consumed.
The reduction and prevention of the incidence of food-borne illness, through the adoption of safe food habits in the home and community.
Restaurateurs, street vendors, cooks in child care institutions, school children aged 12-15 years, housewives.
Sectors and settings
Co-ordinated by the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI) in collaboration with the Council of Voluntary Social Services Organisation (CVSS), an umbrella body consisting of 60 member organisations, which included large numbers of people of various disciplines, social status and political persuasions. The third partner was the Department of Sociology, UWI, Jamaica. UNESCO provided seed money. Subsequently the project worked closely with the Caribbean Institute of Mass Communications (CARIMAC).
A mass media campaign using radio and television was the central strategy. Radio was assessed as accessible to a large cross section of audiences with lower production costs than television. Television was accessible to fewer people and very expensive.
A media consultant employed by the project facilitated a three-day workshop for 23 experienced media practitioners, 32 mass communication students, and CFNI members as resource persons. The workshop went through a process which led to the adoption of three television and 15 radio spots, and a catchy jingle which became the theme of the campaign -covered, clean and cold. The mass media students were from CARIMAC, UWI. The students, who were in their final year, were linked to media houses in the region. Their involvement secured their commitment to subsequent mass media activities on the subject and was a factor in media houses extending the campaign messages free of cost as a public service.
Messages were designed specifically for the three major target groups - adolescent school children, householders, and food handlers. The messages were pre-tested and minor modifications made. The audio and video tapes were acquired by the organisations within CVSS and used in public forums and in produce markets.
One year, 1986.
Monitoring and evaluation
All radio and television stations were monitored monthly to determine the frequency of broadcasting. The messages were found to be frequently broadcast in most cases. Resources limited the evaluation to a sample of 332 restaurateurs, food vendors, housewives,- household helpers, and students. In the selection of samples from St Christopher/Nevis and St Lucia, effort was made to have respondents covering demographic categories of age, occupation, sex, residence, and place of work. The sample group was tested before and after the campaign. In the case of St Christopher/Nevis, only students were sampled on the post-test which did not allow for much comparison within the population. A control group, which had not been exposed to the messages, was created to be compared with the experimental group. The evaluation established that there was a statistically significant increase in knowledge (17.6% increase in Guyana; 48.4% increase in St Lucia, and a 69.7% increase among students in St Christopher/Nevis). The theme and the jingle were easily remembered and very popular. External variables were not controlled. The author comments that the influence of other variables in the post-test scores could have been anticipated by including appropriate questions in the post-test questionnaire, and that individual interviews and focus groups could have been used to help validate the evaluation findings.
The author concluded that the project had strengthened the capacity of CFNI to make more aggressive use of mass communication channels. Previously they had relied almost exclusively on the print media. Partly due to the improved media relations facilitated by this campaign and the network of media practitioners developed, CFNI has worked with the media on a number of subsequent public education initiatives.
The inter-sectoral collaboration with CVSS and others established in the project, has strengthened CFNIs outreach capabilities at the community level. The significant feedback from the campaign in the form of requests for information, emphasises the need for continuity and follow-up.
This case history provides an example of the benefits of collaboration with both the media and social organisations. This was the first major mass media campaign in the Caribbean, and the process of audience segmentation and pre-testing of messages undoubtedly contributed to its success. It also served as a training process for the CFNI in the use of mass media.