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Indian TV Serial Kalyani Wins Prize for HIV/AIDS Message

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A new report, ‘Redefining AIDS in Asia: Crafting an Effective Response’, says that since most men who buy sex are married or are about to get married, significantly “low–risk” women who only have sex with their husbands are exposed to the virus
A weekly health programme on India’s government–run television channel Doordarshan has won an award for the best communication strategy on HIV/AIDS from India. The programme Kalyani was selected by the Asian Media Information Communication Centre (AMIC), Singapore, as the best communication strategy on HIV/AIDS, from India for a project titled ‘HIV/AIDS Prevention in Asia: Communicating the Message’.

Kalyani, which means “benedictions from a goddess”, is broadcast in nine Indian states creating health awareness about malaria, tuberculosis, reproductive health issues, tobacco and alcohol use, sanitation and hygiene, and HIV/AIDS. All the programmes have a common theme but each state produces it independently adding local context and colour.

Kalyani is produced in partnership with the Indian ministries of health and family welfare and the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO).

Seven years after it was first aired, Kalyani programmes enjoy almost the same TRPs (television rating points) as news programmes beamed by Doordarshan’s regional stations and bring in much–needed revenue for the public broadcaster. Thanks to demand for advertising during its airtime, advertising costs were increased to equal those for regional news programmes.

Proof of the programme’s popularity and effectiveness in spreading health awareness is the fact that Kalyani clubs have sprung up all over the country to spread the message. Club members – villagers who regularly watch the programme – strategise on how to implement the various health and hygiene messages. To date, 2,500 Kalyani clubs have been set up with a total membership of around 58,000.

Senior Doordarshan executive Usha Bhasin, who heads the channel’s development communications division, says the primary objective of forming Kalyani clubs was to offer a platform to women, particularly those who had never stepped out of their homes, to participate in the development process. “The concept of the clubs was part of the communication strategy of the Kalyani programme, started in 2002. We know that as a medium we can enter into the homes of people, but we need support to sustain the messages. It was important to have partners in the field to keep hammering home the health messages and the women of the Kalyani clubs have done that in their own innovative ways,” she says.

Like Sunita Vishwakarma, 28, president of the Kalyani club in Raveli village, Durg district, Madhya Pradesh, who decided to print health messages on ration cards. “All our members are housewives like me and use ration cards. So it was a simple and effective way of getting everyone in the house to see the messages,” she says.

The best communication strategies being used by different Asian countries to spread the HIV/AIDS message are being documented on a CD–ROM as well as a resource book.

Supported by the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, AMIC also recognised the programmes Nai Zindagi from Pakistan, Sri Lanka’s Putting HIV on the Front Page, Bangladesh’s Durjoy Nari Shongo on women’s empowerment, and Malaysia’s Mak Nyah on empowering transgender and transsexual people.

Source:, June 30, 2008





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