We encourage you to republish this article online and in print, it’s free under our creative commons attribution license, but please follow some simple guidelines:
  1. You have to credit our authors.
  2. You have to credit SciDev.Net — where possible include our logo with a link back to the original article.
  3. You can simply run the first few lines of the article and then add: “Read the full article on SciDev.Net” containing a link back to the original article.
  4. If you want to also take images published in this story you will need to confirm with the original source if you're licensed to use them.
  5. The easiest way to get the article on your site is to embed the code below.
For more information view our media page and republishing guidelines.

The full article is available here as HTML.

Press Ctrl-C to copy

If you are unable to listen to this audio, please update your browser or go here to download.

For most people a doctor is probably the first port of call when it comes to information about how to keep in good health. Still, much guidance gets broadcast by the media, and in developing countries the radio remains a major source of public health advice.
But just how much is the impact of the mass media? Do they save lives, and at what cost?
For five years, the West African country of Burkina Faso has been a testing ground for a media campaign designed to answer these elusive questions using the gold standard of scientific study, a cluster-randomised clinical trial. The trial targeted child mortality, treating the media as any other health intervention and measuring lives saved after three years of continuous radio programming with information about behaviours that can prevent disease, such as taking a child to a health centre.
SciDev.Net spoke to the project’s leader, Roy Head, CEO of the social enterprise Development Media International. Head explains the rationale behind the study and offers a preview of the results, due to be published later this year.
The interview was recorded on 23 February at the 2017 ISNTD Festival organised by the International Society of Neglected Tropical Diseases in London, UK.