Project Axshya partners with community radio stations to fight TB throughout India

Amit can still remember the young woman standing alone outside the Primary Health Centre in a rural district of Haryana, India. Her family had thrown her out of the house when she was diagnosed with TB, and had since cut off her contact with her children. As Amit shared this woman’s story over one of the many community radio stations working to raise awareness about TB in India, he spoke about the unfair stigma that continues to surround the men and women affected by TB. He explained that TB is curable and that patients do not need to be isolated from their families and cut off from their networks. He spoke of the urgent need for greater understanding of the disease, its symptoms and treatment.

Amit is one of the many radio hosts participating in Project Axshya’s Community Radio Initiative, which partners with community radio stations, equipping the presenters with information, talking points and personal stories about tuberculosis to encourage conversation in the communities where they are located. Since the Community Radio Initiative’s inception in 2010, Project Axshya, supported by the Global Fund, has worked with 50 stations to produce over 2,000 hours of programming on TB in nine languages and across 17 states. TB broadcasts cover topics such as diagnosis, treatment, drug-resistance and socio-economic issues, but centre around two main messages: TB is curable, and free, high-quality diagnostics, treatment and care are available.

These community-owned and operated stations have a broadcast radius of 10–15 kilometres and focus on locally relevant information and development issues of importance to the community. The stations are often one of the few sources of credible information in remote areas, and they are an invaluable tool for broadening public knowledge and understanding of TB.

Project Axshya reaches out to these stations, training them to speak about TB, while helping them find and create interesting content to improve listenership. The Axshya team provides mentoring and support to the non-profit organisations, universities or other groups that run the stations and has developed Talking TB: A Handbook for Community Radio, a two-part self-study resource for broadcasters, educating them on TB and related issues, and helping them create more stimulating and engaging content.

Project Axshya is also working with the radio stations to host community meetings to bring their listeners into contact with TB service providers in the area. All partner stations have been linked with the District TB Officers and NGO partners nearest to them. Over 130 meetings have been held so far, with the radio stations featuring live broadcasts of the meetings and Q&A sessions.

The Project Axshya team is now researching community radio listenership in order to produce more customised programming and attract new audiences and further expand the reach of this initiative.

Download Talking TB: A Handbook for Community Radio

Learn more about Project Axshya