Background: Mass media is critical in disseminating public health information, improving health knowledge and changing health behaviours. However, most of the mass media public health interventions do not sufficiently engage the local people; they are externally determined. Due to this, very little is known about the effects of locally instigated mass media promotion. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine the impact of a community driven mass media campaign called Phukusi la Moyo (tips of life) on the utilisation of maternal health care services.
Methods: A community-based cross-sectional study involving 3825 women of reproductive age (15-49 years) was conducted in rural Malawi to evaluate the Phukusi la Moyo (PLM) campaign. To do this, we compared the utilisation of maternal health care services between women who were exposed to the PLM campaign and those who were not. Respondents were identified using a multistage cluster sampling method. This involved systematically selecting communities (clusters), households and respondents. Associations were examined using Pearson chi square test and a multivariable logistic regression model.
Results: The likelihood of using contraceptives (AOR = 1.61; 95% CI = 1.32-1.96), sleeping under mosquito bed-nets (AOR = 1.65; 95% CI = 1.39-1.97), utilising antenatal care services (AOR = 2.62; 95% CI = 1.45-4.73) and utilising postnatal care services (AOR = 1.59; CI = 1.29-1.95) were significantly higher among women who had exposure to the PLM campaign than those who did not. No significant association was found between health facility delivery and exposure to the PLM campaign.
Conclusion: Women exposed to a community driven mass media campaign in rural Malawi were more likely to utilise maternal health care services than their unexposed counterparts. Since, the use of maternal health care services reduces the risk of maternal morbidity and mortality, community-led mass media could play a significant role towards improving maternal health outcomes in low-and-middle-income countries. Therefore, we recommend the use of locally driven mass media in disseminating public health information in limited resource settings.