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Year : 2001  |  Volume : 14  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 51-60

Songs and Storytelling: Bringing Health Messages to Life in Uganda

Program Director, Friendship Bridge, Evergreen, Colorado, USA

Correspondence Address:
David Silver
3040 5th Street, Boulder, Colorado 80304
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

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In villages without doctors and hospitals in the remote eastern Ugandan district of Pallisa, traditional birth attendants and mothers are solving the most serious health problems through the teaching power of songs and stories. The village's rich oral tradition was enlisted as the principal means not only for transmitting these important health messages, but also for supporting their practice throughout the community. Utilizing existing community traditions such as songs and storytelling offers culturally appropriate ways of enhancing the communications component of the health care system to make it serve the poor majority in a readily comprehensible, credible, affordable, and accessible form. These non-formal active-learning methods are highly compatible with and promotive of the general principles of primary health care, especially for their empowering, participatory and sustainable qualities. It is only a natural extension for health educators to more fully employ the use of the time-honored oral traditions of songs and storytelling as a vehicle for communicating health messages. For students in the health professions, awareness of these proven principles for engaging people at the local levels will contribute to more effective training, strategic program design, and advocacy.

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