235277 Bangladesh – Community theater breaks the taboo on openly discussing adolescent reproductive health issues

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tahmina Mirza , International Program, Plan International USA, Washington, DC
Muhammad Munir Hussain, MBBS MDS , Health Department, Plan International, Dhaka, Bangladesh
Jillian Scott, MPH , Field Support Unit, Plan International USA, Washington, DC
BACKGROUND - In Bangladesh, open discussion on reproductive health issues such as menstrual development or night emissions, HIV/AIDS, STIs, child marriage, and family planning are taboo for adolescent girls in religiously-guided traditional communities. THE PROJECT - Since 2008, Plan International, a child-centered humanitarian organization, has initiated a four-year ‘Theater for Development' (TfD) intervention in 510 communities with 818,000 inhabitants. TfDs are organized at open places and involve local adolescent girls and boys, using drama techniques and mirroring reproductive health situations of adolescents in the community. Theater scripts, based on locally relevant issues, are prepared by a core of 8-10 adolescents in each community, who also perform in the show. Common subjects of TfD shows include child marriage, dowry, drug addiction, HIV/AIDS and STIs, sexual harassment, changes during adolescence and parent-adolescent communication. RESULTS - The project has trained 105 TfD adolescent groups, and a total 590 TfD shows have been organized. According to local surveys, TfD shows are the second highest (98%) accessible form of mass media communication after television (100%); they are widely considered an enjoyable form of learning (65%) and can be easily understood (28%). Among participants, 45% would tell about the bad effects of early marriage to their friends and neighbors, and 19% of girl adolescents can discuss their reproductive health problems with their family. CONSEQUENCES – Given the low cost of each show $5-21) and great acceptance among community members, government agencies and local NGOs are interested to continue and expand TfD.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate the effect of participatory community theater on expanding discussions on adolescent reporductive health issuesm contributing to healthier behaviors, in Bangladesh.

Keywords: Adolescent Health, Community Participation

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Program Implementation
Any relevant financial relationships? Yes

Name of Organization Clinical/Research Area Type of relationship
Plan International USA International Health Employment (includes retainer)

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.