How media programming is supporting polio eradication

This briefing outlines how media can engage parents, caregivers and community influencers with issues about polio vaccination. It informs them about the risks, helps to change deeply-rooted attitudes, and encourages them to seek polio vaccination for their children.

We decided to vaccinate our children after listening to Ghamai.
— Mother, Behsud, Afghanistan


Publication date: October 2018

Authors: Sanjib Saha


Polio has almost been eradicated but it is still endemic in Afghanistan and Pakistan and whilst Nigeria and Somalia have remained polio free for several years they are still at risk of further outbreak. Whilst Polio eradication programmes in these countries have been promoting awareness of the disease and its prevention through vaccination, a number of barriers remain – such as: poor accessibility, low demand for vaccines, prevailing myths about vaccination, conflict and insecurity, violence against vaccinators, and poor access to health facilities. 

Since 2013, BBC Media Action has been working closely with Unicef to support polio eradication. Through mass media programming – radio magazine shows and drama, and radio and TV public service announcements (PSAs) – it has sought to break down barriers to immunising against polio and other childhood vaccines among vulnerable and hard-to-reach communities in Afghanistan, Nigeria and Somalia to increase demand for and uptake of them.

This briefing synthesises findings from research conducted in the three countries – Afghanistan, Nigeria and Somalia - with a focus on Afghanistan. Research findings suggested that BBC Media Action’s programming provided listeners with accurate, trusted and clear information against misinformation and harmful rumours, increased knowledge on the requirement of multiple doses of vaccines and vaccination schedules, prompted discussion and dialogue in communities, garnered trust and confidence among caregivers thorough the use of doctors and religious leaders and encouraged parents to vaccinate their children by dispelling misconceptions about vaccinations.