|Oral Rehydration Therapy and the Control of Diarrheal Diseases (Peace Corps, 1985, 566 pages)|
|Module Six: Community health education|
|Session 18 - adapting and pretesting health education materials on ORT for controlling diarrheal diseases|
by Joan Haffey and Ann Jimerson
It is often much easier to change well-tested educational materials from another country to suit local conditions than it is to "start from scratch." However, adapting means changing. not duplicating. Ample care must be taken to include messages specific to the needs of the new audience and not just to ensure that images such as clothes and surroundings are appropriate. The examples that follow demonstrate some of the advantages of starting with successful materials, and point to the need to pretest all materials in the new setting. The samples are from pictorial booklets for semiliterate and illiterate audiences, and demonstrate the need for clear visual illustrations. The same guidelines apply to the adaptation of any materials that rely on visual images to relay or reinforce information.
Reasons for Adapting Materials
· Proven ideas work well
A major advantage of adapting materials is being able to lest ideas that have proven useful elsewhere. This Pakistani drawing, which tells pregnant women to avoid visiting those who may have a contagious illness, had to be revised six times before it was clearly understood by the illiterate Pakistani target group. A Kenyan adaptation of this same message and drawing was well understood during the first pretest.
· Technical information requires few changes
The instructions for correctly using a particular technology or product often are the same worldwide. Existing educational materials dealing with technical information usually provide a good selection of points, readily adaptable for local use. For instance, the message "Continue feeding a child who has diarrhea" is the same for Mexico and Indonesia, a similarity reflected in these visuals
· Time and money are saved
A Nigerian project saved both time and money by using this Sierra Leonean drawing of a man receiving an injection to cure a sexually transmitted disease. The drawing was easily understood. The final version for Yoruba speakers in Nigeria is quite similar except an illustration of the wife receiving an injection was added to the same page.
Reasons for Testing Materials
· Misunderstood messages
Symbols are culture specific and often need to be changed to convey an identical message For example, although the message "Come to receive an injection every three months" is the same in Mexico and Sierra Leone, the symbols that prove effective in conveying this message to illiterates differ considerably for these cultures Thus. existing materials should only be used as preliminary drafts for the development of your own visuals.
Two other considerations when testing materials fat a new audience are:
· Special informational needs,
Efforts should be made to determine the specific informational needs of the audience so that appropriate messages can be included in the adapted materials. For example, in a culture where false rumors regarding a contraceptive method abound, messages that counteract those rumors should be added.
· Cultural sensitivities
If cultural sensitivities are ignored in selecting visuals, it could be detrimental to a program. Pictures that are acceptable in one culture may be offensive in another. Only by testing drawings and photos with the target audience and with the authorities who will distribute the materials, can you be assured that the visuals are acceptable and will be used.
When assembling illustrated materials, it is important to give credit to those from whom you have borrowed ideas or actual illustrations. People are justifiably proud of effective educational materials they have produced. You should always ask for permission to use them, whether or not the materials are copyrighted. You will find most people are pleased to see their ideas or visuals widely used.
The examples used in this article were taken from booklets developed with the assistance from the Program for the Introduction and Adaptation of Contraceptive Technology and the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PIACT/PATH), by: Programa pare la introducción y Adaptación de Tecnología Apropiada (PIATA), Mexico; PIACT Bangladesh; Yayasan Kusuma Buana, Indonesia; Sierra Leone Home Economics Association and Planned Parenthood of Sierra Leone; Aga Khan Central Health Board for Pakistan; Maendeleo ya Wanawake, Kenya; and the Ministry of Health and Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria. The Johns Hopkins University/Population Communication Services (JHU/PCS) assisted with the development of Nigerian materials. The U.S. Agency for International Development has supported many of these efforts.
Because of differing needs, countries may require assistance to undertake an adaptation project. PIACT/PATH and JHU/PCS will provide assistance in this process upon request. PIACT/ PATH work with heal groups to design and adapt pictorial materials on health and family planning topics for illiterates and semiliterates. Inquiries for information or assistance should be sent to: PIACT/PATH, 1235 23rd St., N. W., Suite 420, Washington, D.C. 20037. U.S.A.
The Population Communication Services Project at The Johns Hopkins University offers technical assistance in developing or adapting communication materials for family planning programs in developing countries. Single copies of sample family planning materials are available from the Media/Materials Collection. When requesting samples please specify audience, family planning topic, and type of materials media desired. Send requests to: Population Communication Services, The Johns Hopkins University, 624 North Broadway, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, U.S.A.
Joan Haffey is Associate Program Officer for PIACT/PATH, She horde a Master's Degree in Public Health from the University of Michigan and has worked be Honduras, Pakistan, Peru, the Sudan, and Kenya.
Ann Jimerson is Media/Materials Coordinator for JHU/PCS. She has worked in educational materials development and communication training in Honduras, Coda Rica, Brazil, Colombia, Panama. and Washington, D.C.
(From development Communication Report No. 48, Winter 1985, pp. 3-4)