Kyaddala, It’s Real! The TV Series Advocating for Contraceptive Self-Care in Uganda

By Sarah Odwong, Strategic Communications Manager, PSI Uganda

As part of outreach efforts, Population Services International (PSI) Uganda partnered with the Pan-African edutainment series Kyaddala, It’s Real to bring the topic of self-injectable contraceptives to the mainstream.

Since it launched in October 2019, Kyaddala, It’s Real weaves in stories that resonate with young people across Uganda and the many gatekeepers they have to engage with as they navigate various challenges in their daily lives, from relationships and career guidance to concerns around gender-based violence and unplanned pregnancies. The show’s inaugural season featured realistic storylines with characters overcoming sexual abuse, pursuing their dream while juggling major responsibilities, facing HIV stigma, forced into an arranged marriage, and exploring love and sex. The first season garnered 5 million TV viewers and captivated nearly 1 million users across social media.

Capitalizing on the show’s popularity, PSI Uganda, through the Delivering Innovation in Self Care (DISC) project collaborated with Reach a Hand Uganda (RAHU) to produce the second season of Kyaddala, It’s Real. Marketed towards a 15–24 age audience, the program offers a unique opportunity to make the self-inject journey, including the decision-making stage, real and relatable to audiences through the show’s characters.

DISCOVERING YOUR POWER THROUGH SELF-INJECT

With funding from the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) that DISC is working to support women—particularly urban mothers and young women aged 20-24 years—to take more control over their sexual and reproductive health (SRH), including addressing their unmet needs and barriers to access of modern contraception.

Beginning with contraceptive self-injection, DISC aims to demonstrate that self-care is a viable cornerstone of SRH. By providing a way for women to have increased voice, choice and agency over their health, self-care offers the Ugandan health system a new and critical partner: consumers themselves. Leveraging consumer insights from users and healthcare providers, DISC is fostering local innovation and local capacity to increase voluntary uptake and continuation of self-injectable contraceptives.

Further, DISC seeks to help build the right environment so that a woman can confidently walk into her neighborhood pharmacy or clinic, or use her phone, to access high-quality products and information that meet her needs for self-care, including self-injectable contraception.

Information is therefore necessary for consumers to start and complete the entire self-injection journey. To this end, several episodes of Kyaddala Season 2 spotlight self-inject contraception and self-care through the experience of Shamim, a newly married first-year university student. She is an ambitious young woman who desires to complete her university education and to build a career before having children. She is not ready to get pregnant. When she shares her fears with a friend, she is introduced to self-inject contraception. Viewers will see Shamim trying to balance her dreams with what is expected of her and see her tapping into her power to go after her dreams. And, through the character of Hajji, viewers will see the importance of male support in the self-care journey. The benefits of the method are visibly highlighted throughout the season—namely that self-injection is safe, effective, easy to use, long lasting, reversible, does not interfere with sex, and can be used by breastfeeding women. The storyline will also address the fact that self-injection can be administered in the privacy of one’s home or where they feel most comfortable, can be discontinued without a provider’s help, and one can keep several doses and reduce the number of trips to the health facility to get subsequent doses—thus enabling users to prevent unplanned pregnancies and pursue their dreams without worry.

Through Kyaddala, DISC has access to a wider platform to encourage information-seeking behavior among the project’s target group (who are part of the show’s primary audience). The edutainment series will increase women’s sense of agency, support women in linking to the healthcare system and provide a new channel for initiation and training. Also, it presents an additional touchpoint to reach the self-inject consumer. Kyaddala provides a direct avenue to drive clients from intent to usage of self-inject contraception.

The much-anticipated second season of Kyaddala started on March 4th, 2022. Episodes are broadcast on NBS TV during Friday night peak time (8-9 pm EAT) and will run till May 20th, 2022. The estimated audience reach for the show is 10-12 million viewers. The series is also expected to stream on Netflix, Sauti Plus TV and some DSTV channels.

“EDUTAINMENT” HAS BECOME A GAME-CHANGER

Across Uganda, 28% of currently married women and 32% of sexually active unmarried women have an unmet need for family planning. Data from the Guttmacher Institute (2019) show serious gaps in sexual and reproductive health services for adolescent women in Uganda. For example, an estimated 648,000 women aged 15–19 in Uganda are sexually active and do not want a child in the next two years. However, among this group, more than 60% have an unmet need for modern contraception, meaning that they either use no contraceptive method or use a traditional method of contraception. Approximately half of all pregnancies among women aged 15–19 in Uganda are unintended, totaling an estimated 214,000 unintended pregnancies each year. The overwhelming majority (88%) of these pregnancies occur among adolescents with an unmet need for modern contraception (FP 2030). In a country where the fertility rate stands at 5.4 children, the impetus remains to resolve the gaps in serving Ugandan women and girls with the tools and information to take more control of their sexual and reproductive health.

Educational entertainment or “edutainment” has become a game changer. From films to television shows, entertainment media is increasingly used to generate awareness and change perceptions around a variety of sensitive topics, including sexual and reproductive health and rights, and can carry the potential of providing life-saving information to tackle some of the most pressing health problems.

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