In Zambia, cancer is a disease shrouded in mystery and silence. Most breast cancer cases in the country are diagnosed at an advanced stage. This is partially due to the dearth of information on metastatic breast cancer (MBC). MBC patients need to access culturally relevant information on the disease and options to receive support. Radio, as the most popular and accessible mode of communication in the country has the potential to reach large audiences to sensitise them on breast cancer as well as support MBC patients.
The Zambian Cancer Society (ZCS) is a non-profit organisation focusing on dissemination of information and supporting those affected by cancer, irrespective of age, gender or type of cancer. By breaking the silence on cancer, ZCS is committed to creating a cancer-smart Zambia through health education, community programmes and events. With the Nthano Zathu project, ZCS is intending to create a radio drama to reach and educate the general public as well as MBC patients in the country.
ZCS has won a SPARC award in October 2019 together with ten other grantees, to support their project “Nthano Zathu Radio Drama”. This project intends to increase breast cancer awareness in Zambia in support of the government’s national cancer control plan.
ZCS has identified radio as far reaching and easily accessible to most MBC patients in the country. Radio is the most popular communication means in Zambia and can overcome barriers such as social class and literacy, which impedes large audiences to access MBC information. The project aims at recording a radio drama series consisting of 13 episodes of 25 minutes each and intends to broadcast the episodes over all the country.
"As a member of the Zambian National Cancer Control Technical Working Group, this grant will help the organisation support the Government’s National Cancer Control Strategic Plan’s quest to increase breast cancer awareness and care. Specifically, our project is designed to help fill the knowledge gap surrounding metastatic breast cancer in Zambia."
The radio drama story will feature health care workers and MBC patients interacting in a breast cancer clinic. The scenes of the drama will dispel stigma and myths around the disease in an entertaining and educative way.
It is estimated that the drama will contribute to increase early detection rates for breast cancer and increase MBC patients’ quality of life. Through the drama, it is expected that more patients will adhere to treatment and be able to find appropriate support. The success and impact of the drama series will be measured by performing a survey to identify the level of knowledge, attitudes and behaviours linked to MBC over time.
Finally, through its wide reach, it is anticipated that the radio drama will have a ripple effect on patients diagnosed with other cancers at advanced stages in addition to their caregivers.
(Information from the project description and context is compiled from the grant application)