Radio-Active | World Vision Blog

Village health workers gather under a mango tree to listen to an Obbanywa radio broadcast. (Photo: 2014 Jon Warren/World Vision)

Today is World Radio Day!

See how “Obbanywa,” a World Vision-produced radio program in Uganda, helps to train volunteer village health team members to identify and treat deadly diseases like malaria!


In the United States, listening to the radio is part of life. We tune into news in the morning, wind down to drive-time music in the afternoon, and relax to sports and talk radio on weekends.

But in Uganda, the radio is more than entertainment.

In Uganda, radio is life.

Obbanywa,” a radio program produced by World Vision, airs twice a week and is specially made for village health team members—Uganda’s front-line health workers who serve as walking mobile health units in their villages. These dedicated volunteers make the difference between life and death in Uganda, and World Vision is helping to train them, using the radio.

World Vision funds these innovative radio dramas that tackle issues such as the three killer diseases for Uganda’s children: malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhea. They are beautifully produced, entertaining, and give practical advice on how to recognize diseases and treat them.

Radio-Active | World Vision Blog
(Photo: 2014 Jon Warren/World Vision)


Through the radio, village health team members learn to know when someone should be referred to a health clinic or hospital. They specialize in working with pregnant moms, giving advice on successful pregnancies. They check on newborns to make sure breastfeeding is going well and that their mothers are having them immunized.

Without these village health team workers, healthcare in Uganda would be severely compromised. There is a massive shortage of doctors. Most flock to the major cities to practice—places where they can earn more money and maybe have the medicine and equipment they need to save lives. In the countryside, village health team workers shoulder the healthcare burden.

Village health team workers are equipped with medicine to treat malaria, diarrhea, and other childhood illnesses—often product donations from corporations, delivered through World Vision.

World Vision gives them what they need to succeed: bicycles to pedal down rutted roads, rubber boots to stomp through the rain, clothing that signifies who they are, and most importantly, medicine to treat killer diseases.

Vincent is a village health team worker in Uganda, one of 250 village health team workers in Kiboga, a district with 350,000 residents. Village health team workers are unpaid volunteers.  They only have five days of government training. By every right, they should fail miserably.

But when they work in communities where World Vision operates, they are held in high esteem. Villagers call them “doctor.” That’s because World Vision is a champion of these unpaid lifesavers.

The World Vision radio program teaches them to diagnose and treat killer diseases. The teams sit together under a tree, listening carefully to each program—digesting every word. World Vision staff text the volunteers questions after the program to test their knowledge.

Radio-Active | World Vision Blog
Nurse Peter Ocen draws blood from a patient to screen for illness. (Photo: 2014 Jon Warren/World Vision)


I asked Vincent about the most significant thing he’d learned from World Vision’s radio program. He told me the story of baby Remigio.

At 6 months, Remigio was “attacked by fever in the middle of the night,” says Vincent. “He was sweating; he was crying.” Vincent knew what to do. He tested the baby for malaria using a rapid test kit. In 15 minutes, the blood test came back positive.

“I got out the malaria medicine and gave it to him immediately,” he told me. “By morning his temperature went down. He stopped sweating. He stopped crying.”

Vincent felt more than relief. “I was overjoyed,” he said. And then he told me why. Vincent is more than Remigio’s “doctor.” He’s his dad.

Taking care of his community is Vincent’s life calling, but he knows that saving his own son is the reason he was put on earth. He is eternally grateful to World Vision for providing him with the medicine and knowledge he needed to make it happen. When he son was dying, Vincent knew exactly what to do.

He’d heard it on the radio.

Help a child in need get the vaccines and care he needs to stay healthy! Sponsor a child in Uganda today.


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