Aime Valens Tuyisenge is the Social Marketing Implementer of Western Region.
In a bid to ensure efficient and effective implementation of programs and timely response to health needs of Rwandans especially at the grassroots, SFH has divided the country into five operational regions; East, West, North, South and Central. In each region, SFH has recruited experienced professionals termed as Social Marketing Implementers. On a day-to-day basis, these officers are on road driving from district to district coordinating activities of SFH and Community Based Organisations (CBOs). Aime Valens Tuyisenge is the Social Marketing Implementer of Western Region. He covers districts of; Muhanga, Ruhango, Rustiro, Karongi, Ngororero and Nyanza. He shares his field experience below;
Question: As a Social Marketing Implementer, how do you work?
Valens: Our work revolves around people. We’re social workers. It is quite motivating seeing people owning health programs extended to them by SFH. It is a unique experience, I must say. As social marketing implementers, we use Behavior Change Communication (BCC) approach. We work closely with local authorities, and health centres in the districts. We are also working with Community Based Health Workers who are organized under either cooperatives or associations. We call them Community Based Organizations (CBOs). Through these (CBOs) we are able to disseminate SFH products, services and programs. For instance, in organizing events like HIV Mobile Cinemas, CBOs help us a lot.
Question: In which particular ways do you do social marketing in western region?
Valens: We use promotional materials like banners and Information Education Communication (IEC) Materials. Depending on the target audience, we apply various communication tools. For instance for Nutrition, HIV and Family Planning in Karongi District we are working with Radio Insangano to run a live radio talkshow. We use the talkshow to pass on key messages but also get feedback from listeners to make informed responses. We have also identified peer indicators among CBOs, trained them, and equipped them with skills on peer education and social marketing. We use them to do Inter Personal Contacts (IPCs) with their peers. Using a mobile van we’re showing mobile cinemas in open areas in the evening for free about; HIV/AIDS, family planning etc. We also stage drama (plays) and songs with key messages that relate to the SFH areas of intervention. For instance, “Umugabo Nyawe” (real man) campaign is very successful and excites the people of western region. It is a Family Planning Campaign which highlights the role of man in family planning. We are promoting the new system of Vasectomy as well.
Question: Let’s talk about the Products, how accessible and affordable are they?
Valens: We are guided by the 4Ps of social marketing in whatever we do; price, product, place and promotion. First of all, based on our regular consultations and research, prices of all SFH products have been made affordable. For instance, the retail price for prudence was slashed from wrf300 to rwf100. The price of Plasir was also reduced from rwf500 to rwf200 only. It is only rwf300 only at any vending machine across the country. The same applies to all other health products distributed by SFH. We ensure close supervision of our activities. We work closely with partners. Results are gauged on the usage of health products through our network of Community Based Distributors (CBDs) including; retailers, semi-wholesaler and wholesalers. On a weekly basis we have a target of creating 5 new outlets (CBDs) and supervise 15 outlets. And we file weekly reports. We normally reach this target.
Question: What experience have you gathered working with communities in regards health-related matters?
Valens: Different people have different understandings and myths about a condom, mixed with religious and cultural beliefs. We are countering these myths and beliefs through social marketing initiatives I have explained to you. We also endeavor to work closely with the civil society particularly churches, mosques and youth organizations because they are part of the Joint Action Forum (JAF). Through such Forums we try to explain our position on various matters.
Question: Driving through western region, I witnessed a number of signposts for health-related NGOs. How do you avoid duplication and overlaps?
Valens: All NGOs at the grassroots we cooperate through what is called the Joint Action Forum (JAF) to avoid duplication and overlaps. We work closely with district authorities who play a critical role of coordinating and advising on areas of intervention. They will not allow you cover a beneficiary already covered by another NGO.