Public Health Information Gaps in Zambia Persist: New Research Findings From InterMedia's AudienceScapes Project

By Intermedia, PRNE
Monday, November 22, 2010

WASHINGTON, November 23, 2010 - Zambian women lack basic information about family planning and maternal
and child health (FP-MCH), a new AudienceScapes report from InterMedia report
finds. And despite Zambia's high teen pregnancy rates, youth (15-24) in the
country don't seek out FP-MCH information as much as those in older age
groups. The report suggests using customized messaging and mobile phones as
information channels to help close the information gap.

How people in different social and demographic groups gather, share and
access information about health care in Zambia is the focus of the 40-page
"Health Information Gaps in Zambia - Evidence from the AudienceScapes
National Survey," one of several AudienceScapes (
reports that InterMedia is releasing in the wake of extensive research
conducted in the African country earlier this year. The research and report,
funded in part by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation,
highlights key differences among various socioeconomic groups in terms of
access to health care services and critical health care information.
Development organizations, governments and NGOs can use these insights to
target hard-to-reach populations more effectively.

"Communication is critical to health intervention programs, and the
AudienceScapes research can help," said Dr. Yingying Zhou, InterMedia author
of the report. "This report is based on extensive baseline data that can
underpin health communication strategies in Zambia."

    Some findings from the health care report:
    - Overall, radio is the most widely accessed source of health
      information, especially among rural and low-income Zambians. Despite
      more than half of Zambians having access to mobile phones, new media
      outlets were not cited extensively as important sources for health
      information, suggesting potential for SMS and eventually mobile
      internet campaigns.
    - The data indicate a link between access to health information and
      health outcomes; specifically, people who said they had received
      information on HIV/AIDS, malaria or family planning were more likely to
      be in better health.
    - Doctors are the most trusted source of health information, but
      Zambians' access to them is limited, especially in rural communities.
      Friends and family are the most frequent word-of-mouth sources of
      health information; traditional healers and community elders are
      significantly less popular, especially among the young.
    - There are significant gender differences in health care information
      access: women are far less likely to use mass media resources, and more
      likely to use word-of-mouth, than are men.
    - Respondents were asked to judge Zambia's level of progress in achieving
      selected millennium development goals (MDGs), which member countries of
      the United Nations have agreed to reach by 2015. These included two
      health-related MDGs: "Pregnant women can see a doctor at least once
      before and once after they give birth"; and, "All adults have access to
      birth control methods." Seventy-one per cent of Zambian respondents
      report "some" or "a lot" of recent progress towards the first, and 66%
      report some or a lot of recent progress made in the second MDG.
    - Rural, low-income and poorly educated Zambians are the most
      disadvantaged groups in terms of health care and access to health care
      information, as is the case in most developing countries.

The report is based on InterMedia's AudienceScapes
nationally-representative survey of 2,000 Zambians aged 15 and older,
conducted in April-May, 2010. Other InterMedia AudienceScapes reports look

    - Mobile phone use in Zambia
    - A national mass media overview (Radio, television and print), including
      in-depth analysis of the reach and popularity of community and
      religious radio stations.
    - A study of the "policy information environment" in Zambia, based on
      in-depth interviews with senior Zambian officials about their habits of
      gathering, sharing and disseminating information.

InterMedia ( is a research-based consultancy
providing strategic guidance and insight into the behaviors and views of
people globally, especially among hard-to-reach populations. We provide
counsel on effective engagement strategies in an increasingly complex media
and communication environment, helping a diverse clientele map and measure
how people gather, share and shape information.

The AudienceScapes project, launched in 2009 with support from the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation, applied InterMedia's core research competencies to
the needs of development practitioners worldwide. A dedicated research
program and an online resource center ( provide
in-depth, user-friendly data and analysis on media use, information flows and
communication habits in Africa and other regions.

Access report here:

Health Information Gaps in Zambia


Alex Wooley, Vice President of Communications, InterMedia, +1-202-434-9332, wooleya at

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