Radio still reigns: how SHOPS Plus uses radio to spread health messages

On Christmas Eve 1906, a Canadian born inventor, by the name of Reginald Fessenden, transmitted the first radio broadcast. The radio waves spread out from the shores of Massachusetts to ships at sea and beyond. Over the next few decades radio would become the most popular method for transmitting information. To this day, radio is still the leading platform by reach, with over 90% of the world listening in.

While the internet, television, and social media have important roles to play in sharing information, radio still reigns. With this in mind, SHOPS Plus has used radio as a key platform for sharing information and educating the public. Over 4.5 million people in 2019 were reached by SHOPS Plus-supported health messages transmitted via radio.

These messages covered, and still cover, health areas such as family planning, child health, and tuberculosis. Below are a few examples of programs using radio to reach people.

Fan of Health Friday from SHOPS Plus and VOA: I never miss a show

Women in an office using a microphone to record.
Partnership coordinators Djina Delatour, Julie Cadet-Elize, and Ricarda Germain of SHOPS Plus record a weekly radio show in the project’s Port-au-Prince office using Skype.


The SHOPS Plus team in Haiti partnered with Voice of America on a radio show called "Dyaloge ak Etazini" (Dialogue with the United States). More than forty radio stations across all of Haiti broadcast the show.

They built an audience of fans who were grateful for the information SHOPS Plus was sharing. Fans such as Phanie Jolissaint, a Haitian mother and shop keeper. “I am a regular listener of this program. I do not miss any broadcasts.”

“This program informed me about preventative care for my health, and about child health for those who are close to me and the community. It allowed me to pay attention to healthy hygiene habits and to help others to do the same,” Jolissaint shared.

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Targeting health messages in rural Nepal

Women sitting down listening to a speaker.
Women in Ramechaap District participate in a RAI women's group.

Over the last two years, Nepal’s prominent social marketing organization—the CRS Company—implemented a social and behavior change program called the Remote Area Initiative (RAI). The RAI program operates in four extremely rural areas of Nepal with some of the lowest maternal, child, and reproductive health outcomes.

The RAI program aims to increase adoption of healthy behaviors such as using ORS and zinc for childhood diarrhea, delivering babies in a health facility, washing hands with soap and water, and birth spacing. The intervention employs an array of interpersonal communication and mass media techniques including women’s and men’s groups led by trained community change agents, interactive theater performances, and radio drama programs informed by community experiences.

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SHOPS Plus launches radio show with MTV

People on a stage speaking.
Youth influencers and representatives from the partner organizations spoke at the launch. | Credit: MTV Staying Alive Foundation


On September 24, 2019, SHOPS Plus joined MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation, Johnson & Johnson, Viacom 18, and India’s National Health Mission to launch a new radio series designed to engage young people and provide them with relevant, accurate information on reproductive health and well-being.

Each episode is 30 minutes long and follows the narrative of a character who is tackling issues such as modern contraceptive use, stigma around LGBTQ issues, and myths surrounding safe contraception methods. Following the 10-minute long narrative, the radio hosts will continue with a 20-minute discussion encouraging listeners to call in to ask questions and share their thoughts.

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Sustaining Health Outcomes through the Private Sector (SHOPS) Plus is a five-year cooperative agreement (AID-OAA-A-15-00067) funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This website is made possible by the generous support of the American people through USAID. The information provided on this website is not official U.S. government information and does not represent the views or positions of USAID or the U.S. government.

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