LUSAKA – For many in lower-income environments of Zambia, access to information pertaining to health and health care services remains a challenge.

This is because a large number of people in these environments do not know how to read or write. The other reason could be that the information has been packaged in a way that makes it difficult to understand.

It is also important to note that many individuals residing in these communities are preoccupied with livelihood issues while other things are considered to be secondary.

Therefore, in order to register success in the implementation of health programs in such communities, the need to be innovative when designing information tools and content cannot be overemphasized.

It is for this reason that a theatre group that operates in Chawama Compound, a densely populated area located in Zambia’s capital Lusaka is using arts to reach out to the community with messages on how to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

Tiyanjane Theatre group has been conducting sensitization and awareness-raising programs in the compound which are aimed at encouraging members of the community to take action against the spread of the COVID-19 by investing in preventive measures.

The theatre group uses drama, songs and sketches to relay the message of COVID-19 prevention and to educate the public about long-term benefits of maintaining good hygiene habits such as washing hands regularly, avoiding handshakes and crowded places.

The group’s performances are often kick-started by the beating of traditional Zambian drums. This is in a bid to get the attention of the community or target group.

Incorporated in Tiyanjane Theatre group’s COVID-19 outreach program is a segment for an expert in health care service delivery. This is to ensure that an expert responds to questions that the community may have at the time.

“We have managed to hold a number of performances at Chawama health facilities and the response has been overwhelming. A number of organizations have approached Tiyanjane Theatre group to perform and help disseminate information on COVID-19 prevention,” said Tiyanjane Theatre Group Coordinator John Kaumba.

Kaumba revealed that his group has in the past been involved in disseminating information about diseases and outbreaks such as cholera and that now it stands ready to do more work around the COVID-19 pandemic by using arts to reach out to communities.

“We would want to reach more people through our performances but we are also mindful of the fact that we have in place smaller numbers at any given time,” Kaumba added.

A number of Chawama residents noted that through the Tiyanjane Theatre group’s performance, people have been encouraged to learn more about the COVID-19 pandemic, observe hygiene practices and to seek health care services.

“It is in the way they package and present the messages on COVID-19 pandemic that makes the information worth listening to and encourages one to take action,” said Mirriam Phiri, a trader at Chawama Market. – Xinhua