Developing and Implementing a Dissemination Plan (DP) for MIS Results

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Developing and Implementing a Dissemination Plan (DP) for MIS Results

    [Country] National Malaria Indicator Survey [Year]

    A Handbook for Disseminating

    Malaria Indicator Survey Results

    Ministry of Health

    [City, Country]


    ththRBM-MERG Malaria Indicator Training Workshop, 9-12 September 2008, Lusaka, Zambia

    [This document is part of the ? Malaria Indicator Survey ? toolkit, developed by the RBM-MERG, with contributions from the following partners: Center for Disease Control-CDC, Swiss Tropical Institute, Johns Hopkins University, The World Bank, The Global Fund against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, MACRO International, Malaria Consortium, Malaria Control and Evaluation Partnership in Africa (MACEPA) PATH, Malaria in

    Pregnancy Consortium Secretariat, MEASURE Evaluation, WHO,WHO-AFRO, RBM-PS, Tulane University, UNICEF and USAID/PMI. This toolkit also largely benefited from national programmes from countries having conducted MISs.]

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    Introduction: Spreading the news .................................................................... 4 1. Form a dissemination team ........................................................................ 4 2. Identify communications goals and objectives.................................................. 4 3. Identify key audiences.............................................................................. 5 4. Develop a dissemination strategy for announcing MIS results ................................ 6 5. Develop key messages .............................................................................. 7 6. Develop materials to publicize and contextualize findings ................................... 8 7. Prepare for difficult questions .................................................................... 9 8. Engage the media .................................................................................. 10 9. Hold an MIS announcement event ............................................................... 12 10. Sustain interest in MIS results and malaria control .......................................... 13 Appendix A. Potential dissemination workshop participants .................................... 14 Appendix B. Sample agenda for a formal MIS announcement event ........................... 15 Appendix C. Sample agenda for media briefing on the day of announcing MIS results ...... 16 Appendix D. MIS dissemination plan timeline ..................................................... 17

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    Introduction: Spreading the news

    Global interest and investment in stopping malaria by rapidly scaling up proven interventions at the national scale have never been greater. Countries particularly in

    Africa are keen to understand what approaches to scale-up can have the biggest and most rapid impact. Partners that have made considerable investments in malaria control scale-up are increasingly looking to countries to broadly share what’s known about how it

    can be done successfully.

    This handbook was developed to help people who are involved in planning, implementing, or promoting national malaria control programs to understand why and how to strategically communicate malaria indicator survey (MIS) results. It provides an overview of steps involved in widely sharing MIS results and of key issues to consider when planning activities, as well as templates that can be used when developing summary dissemination materials.

    Africa is becoming rich with experience in malaria control scale-up. Strategically disseminating survey results is integral to ensuring that lessons learned can be celebrated in your country and also can extend beyond its borders. Following are key steps to consider and plan for when disseminating MIS results:

1. Form a dissemination team

    A core MIS dissemination team can take the lead in planning and implementing the dissemination strategy. In most countries, the Ministry of Health (MoH) ―owns‖ the MIS

    findings and therefore should take the lead in developing the plan for strategically making the findings extensively available. The team should be small about five people and can

    include one or two of the following individuals:

     The lead writer of the full-length MIS report: This person will have the deepest

    understanding of the findings, what they mean, and how they can accurately be

    ―translated‖ into lay language.

     A communications expert: This person should be familiar with national malaria

    goals and activities, strategic messaging for a range of audiences, and working with

    media, and should have strong writing and speaking skills.

     A high-level malaria representative from the MoH: This person may work either on

    the technical aspects of malaria control or manage the national program. The core team is responsible for developing the overall dissemination strategy, including goals, objectives, target audiences, key messages, and materials. The team also should identify and provide support to individuals who will serve as spokespeople for the survey, such as a high-level government official or the head of the national malaria control program. The team must be sensitive to protocol, review, and approval issues from the MoH, making sure that the appropriate authorities are aware of and ultimately endorse plans and materials that the core group develops.

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    2. Identify communications goals and objectives

    Formulating communications goals for the MIS dissemination plan ensures that members of the core team and the MoH authorities agree on the main purpose of dissemination strategy. Assuming that your MIS findings are positive, the main goals could be to broaden global media’s understanding of your country’s leadership role in the scale-up

    ―movement‖ or to convince other Ministers of Health in your region that they should

    engage in the movement for regional success in reducing malaria burden. Communications objectives state the desired secondary effects of your dissemination strategy. Defining them helps a program identify which communication tools and activities will be most relevant to MIS dissemination. All communication objectives should be directly linked to the goals. For instance, you may want to bring attention to specific tools or partnerships that were key contributors to your country’s success.

3. Identify key audiences

    Once the communications goals and objectives are identified, the key audiences associated with them can be identified. The core MIS dissemination team can identify organizations, groups, or individuals that they think would be interested in the findings, as well as those who the team would like to ―hook‖ into being interested. Target audiences may include:

     Subnational, national, or global malaria control community.

     National or global health or malaria control policymakers.

     National or global media journalists.

     National or global malaria or global health research community.

     Other in-country health sectors with whom you may want to engage.

     Community health workers.

     Tribal chiefs or religious leaders.

    Once the key audiences are identified, a dissemination plan can be developed that outlines events and opportunities to strategically make the survey findings available. It may be useful to develop this plan in two phases, the first phase focusing on the release of the findings and the second phase focusing on broadcasting the findings to additional audiences over time.

     Reaching project beneficiaries

    Sharing MIS results with those who benefit directly or indirectly from the malaria program such as parents or pregnant women can help increase community interest and

    commitment to the fight against malaria. Sharing news about progress can help beneficiaries celebrate success and understand how their actions to help control malaria are bringing about meaningful improvements in their lives and communities. Results can be shared via announcements at community sporting events or holiday celebrations. Developing colorful,

    user-friendly materials such as brochures and posters to be made available in public spaces such as health clinics may help reach this group. In addition, health care workers, religious or political leaders, community radio DJs, and other influential people can help ensure that

     people hear good news about their country’s progress.

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    4. Develop a dissemination strategy for announcing MIS results

    An MIS dissemination strategy outlines activities to support achievement of communications goals and objectives. The nature of the strategy will depend upon how important the national ministry views the findings to be and how much public disclosure of information is desired. For instance, if the MIS reveals important data and lessons on the impact of recent national malaria control scale-up efforts, then it would be reasonable, at minimum, to plan an event with high-level government officials in which outreach to key national (or global) stakeholders and media is desired. Alternately, if the MIS presents baseline rather than impact data or if the findings show little or no impact the core

    dissemination team may decide to plan limited announcements. Assuming that your country’s MIS findings are worthy of sharing broadly, three main steps should be

    considered as part of your dissemination strategy.

    Plan an announcement event

    An event for disseminating MIS results can take place on its own or could be linked to other noteworthy events such as national, regional or global health meetings, a Child Health Week event, SADC Health Week, or activities related to the annual World Malaria Day on 25 April. The dissemination event can be organized as a formal half-day meeting in which the MoH officially releases the MIS results. The results and their implications can be presented from an official standpoint and discussed among meeting participants. This can present a good opportunity for the government to set out a plan for a follow-up meeting among malaria partners to develop or adapt national plans based upon the survey findings (see box below). A sample of partners to invite to this meeting can be found in Appendix A and a sample agenda for a half-day meeting can be found in Appendix B.

Allowing time for post-announcement strategic planning!

     While benchmarking progress is a key outcome of conducting an MIS, actually applying the

     findings to inform national plans for malaria control is central to program effectiveness. Since key malaria control partners and officials likely will be present for the MIS announcement

    event, it presents an ideal time for them to meet to review and modify national plans for the range of interventions based upon the MIS findings. This could be a half-day technical meeting following the announcement.

Plan a media outreach strategy

    In addition to inviting technical and policy staff to an announcement event, inviting members of the media to the meeting can help ensure print, radio, or television coverage. More information on engaging the media, including developing a press kit, can be found in section 8.

    Plan for sustaining broad attention over the longer term

    There is keen interest today at the Africa regional and global levels in understanding successes and lessons in controlling malaria. Making MIS results available broadly over time can be an important service to other countries, to a range of stakeholders, and also to your own country as it provides an evidence base upon which to request additional support, if needed.

    There are many ways to ensure that the findings and successes your country experiences can be shared widely with others. Some examples include:

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     Making presentations at relevant national, regional and global partner meetings:

    Examples include those organized by the Roll Back Malaria Partnership or

    intergovernmental bodies such as the Southern African Development Community.

     Giving technical talks or poster presentations at health conferences: The Global

    Health Council and the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene hold

    annual global health conferences in which malaria is an important focus.

     Publishing findings in peer-reviewed journals: The Lancet, East African Medical

    Journal, and American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene are examples of

    respected journals which could provide high visibility and validation of MIS results. These activities can require considerable investments in terms of time or travel; at the same time, sharing information about successes and lessons is central to many countries’ malaria control objectives and so can be viewed as a priority. Additional information about sustaining long-term interest in your country’s findings can be found in Section 10.

5. Develop key messages

    Key messages provide the core information that you want your audiences to hear and remember. In relation to an MIS, key messages explain what the survey findings were and what they mean. Key messages should be brief but persuasive enough to explainand

    convince someone ofthe importance of what you are saying.

    If an MoH plans to hold a meeting or press briefing to formally announce MIS findings, then it will be important to develop a set of key messages ahead of time for internal use among key MIS partners. Developing these messages is often a collaborative process that takes place within the core dissemination team. This process provides an opportunity to distill the survey findings and their broader meaning into brief, powerful, mutually agreeable messages (usually no more than five) that can be readily understood among a range of audiences. Key messages should:

     Be briefno longer than one or two sentences.

     Be understoodusing language understandable to nontechnical target audiences.

     Be powerfulusing language that conveys the importance of the findings.

     Be agreed upon by all MIS partners: to ensure consistent information is


     Show impact in terms of lives saved and livelihoods improved.

     Be backed up by research referring to the current or past MIS or other credible


     Focus on the positive, emphasizing improvements in areas such as intervention

    coverage rates or decreases in malaria parasitemia.

     Be directly tied to national or global goals if possible.

     Explain implications for the future of malaria control.

    Once developed, key messages may comprise the central content for other materials, such as a press release, email announcements, or web site announcements.

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    Examples of key messages Weak message:

    In 2003 our country delivered 20,000 ITNs, and in 2007 we delivered 1 million ITNs.

    Stronger message:

     In three years, our country increased its ITN distribution capacity 50-fold, resulting in the

    protection from malaria of nine out of ten people at risk of malaria last year. Weak message:

    Our country’s MIS results demonstrate that we have achieved our goals set out five years earlier.

    Stronger message:

    These MIS results demonstrate the extraordinary leadership and commitment present at all levels in our country; we are in the forefront in stopping malaria in Africa and our efforts, with continued global partner support, are providing the foundation for malaria elimination.

     Weak message:

    Unfortunately, only 20% of children under age 5 received ACTs within 24 hours of fever.

    Stronger message:

     While these MIS results are positive, there is still more work to be done, particularly in ensuring

    that young children quickly access needed medicines.

Answering the “what’s next?” question

    Once the results of the MIS have been released, stakeholders will want to know the next steps in the malaria control plan. Be prepared to outline future program objectives and concrete activities to achieve these objectives. Make sure the audience knows that this is a dynamic, ongoing process and that they can anticipate positive changes in the future. Develop and prepare answers to list of ―tough‖ questions that the media or stakeholders

    might ask. If disseminating the results of a baseline survey, be ready to outline the action plan and what the next indicator hopes to discover. Particularly if the MIS survey results are negative, be ready to offer a way forward to sustain support for the program.

6. Develop materials to publicize and contextualize findings

    In addition to the release of the full-length MIS report which can easily exceed 100 pages

    in length summary documents should be developed that highlight the key findings and explain their implications. These materials can include:

    ; Country profile: highlights key elements of the national plan for malaria control,

    demographic and malaria information, and progress towards achieving targets.

    ; Technical summary: provides a summary and analysis of key findings from the

    survey. It may also compare findings with previous studies to explain progress in

    intervention coverage, anemia or parasitemia prevalence rates, or other indicators

    related to malaria prevention and control This document will include key messages

    developed by the core dissemination team.

    ; Fact sheet: synthesizes into one page a summary of findings.

    ; Press release: provides key messages from the survey as well as quotes from high-

    level personnel providing context to the survey. It can be broadly disseminated to

    local, national, regional, or global media outlets.

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    ; Malaria 101” information sheets: can provide supplemental materials for those,

    such as journalists, with limited knowledge about malaria. The Roll Back Malaria

    and Malaria Vaccine Initiative web sites ( and both have excellent information sheets that you can


    ; Opinion/editorial column for submission to a newspaper: can draw broad public

    attention to the issues.

    ; PowerPoint presentation: can highlight MIS results.

    ; Human interest story, either written or videotaped: can put a face on the numbers.

    When developing these materials, remember that your target audiences may have a wide range of technical understanding of malaria and how it can be controlled or of survey data. For instance, malaria researchers will likely desire a more technical presentation of survey findings, while grassroots community members may prefer information that is presented in lay language.

Electronic dissemination of MIS findings Internet and email access are increasingly common in Africa, and so developing a plan for electronic

    dissemination of findings is now a very efficient way to quickly reach a large global audience. Key components for electronic dissemination include:

     Sending an email announcement. This can be sent under the name of the appropriate MoH authority (such as the Minister of Health, the head of the National Malaria Control Program, or the

    head of communications) and should be distributed to key organizations and individuals in your target audience. The email can simply include the press release as the main content or can

    provide another perspective on the MIS findings based on the key messages developed. In either case, the email should include links to web resources described below.

     Identifying a web site that can serve as the “home” for all electronic materials. This can

    include the full report, fact sheets, press release, and the like. This usually will be on the MoH web site. Be sure to engage the web site manager early on to ensure that s/he can get materials

     posted at the right time. (Remember, do not post the materials or press release prior to the public

    release of information!)

7. Prepare for difficult questions

    Expect and be prepared to answer difficult or undesirable questions; avoiding them will make your organization seem weak and unprofessional. An experienced facilitator should be able to minimize the impact of any difficult situations. If appropriate, after an interview, you may request to review the draft copy, as it involves the communication of technical material.

    Even if your country has achieved great successes in malaria control, the dissemination team should still identify potential difficult questions that may arise and agree on appropriate responses. For instance, if your country achieved coverage targets for all interventions, you may want to develop a response to questions regarding why further investments in malaria are needed.

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    Not all MIS findings are worth celebrating. If you have enough good news to merit developing a comprehensive MIS dissemination plan, then you will need to agree upon messages that speak specifically to less-than-optimal results. It is best to be prepared for questions challenging all survey results, not just those that are positive.

8. Engage the media

    If media coverage is a high priority, it will be useful to work closely with the radio, television, and print journalists before, during, and after the dissemination of MIS results. Appropriate media communication channels vary by country, so do a bit of research to find out which channel best reaches your target audience. Ideally, the media will already be familiar with malaria and efforts in your country to control it. But in some cases, it may be worthwhile to organize an in-depth media training prior to announcing MIS results specifically to ensure that they understand basic malaria concepts, activities in your country, and the importance of the upcoming announcement. Alternately, if the media are already conversant in malaria, a shorter briefing or breakfast event may be more appropriate for providing background information.

    Establishing a primary media contact

    It is important to establish and train one person to serve as the primary contact for any interaction with the

    media and to make their name and contact information available on all print or electronic materials in the

    press kit. This person will be the first point of contact, screening media requests and directing media

    inquiries to the appropriate pre-designated spokespeople.

    Holding a media training prior to the announcement event to provide malaria background information

    A successful media training provides the skills, information, and context necessary for journalists to be able to report on the MIS announcement effectively and accurately. It can be organized as a half-day event and should include the following activities:

     Malaria 101: explaining the basics behind malaria transmission, prevention

    and treatment.

     Country update: describing what your country is doing to fight malaria.

     Malaria news: explaining why the MIS results are newsworthy and important.

     Brainstorming session: identifying key contacts and potential storylines.

    At the end of the training, journalists should be able to explain what an MIS is and why it is important in country context, explain key indicators in lay terms, and have a clear vision of how to proceed with coverage of the MIS findings and the MIS dissemination event. If possible, it is useful to hold an annual media orientation in order to provide a ―refresher‖ on key messages, to orient new members of the media, to help keep media coverage of malaria control ―on track,‖ and to keep malaria a high priority on the media agenda.

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