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Caroline Sugg's blog

How people behave really matters to health

To: The HIV/AIDS Communication Network with The Communication Initiative

From Caroline Sugg - BBC Media Action on social and behaviour change to achieve public health outcomes.

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How people behave really matters to health

The Ebola emergency in West Africa shines a fresh light on the way in which peoples' everyday actions are critical to maintaining public health.

Trained medical staff and health facilities are of course vital to the response but, in the absence of a vaccine and with few available treatment options, it's clear that what people do or don’t do really matters. Whether they go for a test and seek treatment if they fall sick; how they look after family members who are ill; and how the dead are mourned and buried - all become matters of life and death.

BBC Media Action has been working on social and behaviour change for over a decade. Responding to the Ebola outbreak is the latest in a series of health interventions that include efforts to improve maternal and child health, and helping people prevent and seek treatment for TB and HIV and AIDS.

Throughout this time we, like many others, have been concerned that we don’t always have sufficiently rigorous evidence about which communication strategies can help shape behaviour and influence social norms, ultimately saving lives.

HIV/AIDS Communication