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Call for nationwide campaign to educate citizens

By Bola Noho PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 27, 2010) - Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other social, health and environmental indicators are not achievable because of its cultural diversity.

United Nation’s (UN) resident coordinator in PNG David McLachlan-Karr said this last week during an agreement signing between them and bemobile to sponsor the MDGs radio serial dramas campaign.

He said PNG’s cultural heritage, the 864 languages and its geographical barriers were hindering the country’s progress in achieving its MDGs and other social, health and environmental indicators.

[PIR editor’s note: According to the World Health Organization, Papua New Guinea’s health status is the lowest in the Pacific region. The country has more than 600 islands with a population of approximately 6 million people with close to 87 percent living in rural areas. "Communicable diseases, including malaria and tuberculosis, remain the major cause of morbidity and mortality in all age groups. Papua New Guinea now has a generalized epidemic of HIV/AIDS."]

Mr. McLachlan-Karr said there was a need for a nationwide educational campaign to reach the majority of the people.

He said they were developing the radio serial drama campaigns to use an innovative approach for behavior change to help PNG work towards achieving its MDGs. "The project will be developed and implemented by the Population Media Centre (PMC). PMC will create radio dramas," Mr. McLachlankarr said.

He said according to the 2006 demographic and health survey, about 48 percent of women and 63 percent of men listen to the radio.

Mr. McLachlankarr said media access remained a challenge in PNG but radio had the greatest reach and could get to many people.

He said the serial dramas will address a range of interrelated issues that had been hindered by the cultural diversity.

The project will address the issues and promote the use of family planning methods, elevating women’s status, increasing HIV/AIDS awareness, decreasing stigma, encouraging testing, reducing violence against women, building support for universal education and increasing enrollment of children in primary schools.

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