CARIMAC students’ #Dntxtndrive Campaign 2012

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The Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) Social Marketing class 2012 this year for their final year project focused their energy on a campaign against texting and driving. Despite the lack of local empirical evidence to support the choice of the campaign, it was duly justified based on emerging evidence and policy regionally and worldwide. Trinidad and Tobago, for example has implemented a law against the use of cellular telephones while on the roads from as early as February 2011. The law states:

“No person shall drive or have charge of a motor vehicle on any road while holding or using a hand-held mobile device.”


“No person shall use a wireless communication device to view, send or compose an electronic message while driving or having charge of a vehicle.”

Breach of this regulation renders a person liable to a fine of $1,500 or three months imprisonment.

The campaign by the social marketing group therefore rightly claims to be proactive in calling attention to this issue in Jamaica. They launched a campaign aimed at heightening awareness and behaviour change (less texting and driving) targeted at students of the University of the West Indies (UWI). The campaign recently ended but there were a number of innovative ideas employed by the students in order to communicated their message.

1. The Chalkwalk

The students drew large images of their campaign logo and slogan #dntxtndrive using chalk. This was not only interesting for passers by after completion, but stimulated interaction with onlookers about the campaign message while the drawing took place.

2. The Walkabout

The students used a steering wheel to dramatically walk around the campus, bumping into people as they passed as a conversation starter about texting and driving.

3. The Flash Mob

A group of dancers partners partnered with the social marketing team to do a flashmob which would highlight the message to onlookers.

And there were other great activities as well including a window wash/wipe event in the university car park and a campaign song. I was impressed by the creativity and work put in by the class to attempt a successful campaign.

But, was the campaign successful? The evaluation suggested that there was only a 13% adaption of the behaviour (the target was 20%). The students have argued, however, that the campaign was implemented in less than 6 months and changing behaviour is a long term activity. Also, 13% is still a positive indicator (the campaign certainly did not cause the behaviour to change in a negative way).

This is a viable argument, however one cannot help but wonder if the students should have even tackled behaviour change to begin with, given the limited time for the campaign. Awareness raising and advocacy could have been a sufficient goal for the time frame. Also, there is the question of whether the University was the best place to target the campaign. How many UWI students drive and was the campaign targeted enough specifically at drivers on the campus?

On Monday, May 14 2012, the day after the evaluation presentation of the campaign by the students the Minister of Transport, Works and Housing, Hon. Dr. Omar Davies announced that persons who use mobile phones while driving will soon face fines, with the promulgation of new legislation by the end of 2012, which will make the practise illegal (view article). This cannot necessarily be directly attributed to the students’ campaign (unless Mr. Davies confirms :)) but it may have been influenced by the campaign. As such, a hearty congratulations to the students for raising awareness of this issue inside and outside of the walls of the University!

View the students’ presentation here.


On the periphery of the IAS 2011 conference which took place in Rome from 17-20 July 2011, UNAIDS in collaboration with the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS (GCWA), ATHENA, Salamander Trust, WECARe+ and Network Persone Seropositive convened a town hall dialogue to discuss how the HIV response facilitates the achievement of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all women, including women living with HIV, at every stage of their lives.

For women living with HIV stigma and discrimination and gender-based violence acutely affect their access to comprehensive services and human rights. Within health services, they often face a lack of choice with regard to family planning; disapproval from service providers with regard to meeting sexuality and fertility desires; and violation of their sexual and reproductive rights in the form of coerced or forced abortion or sterilization. Participants agreed that advancing the health and rights of women in all their diversity is fundamental to the success of the HIV response, just as the HIV response is a critical avenue for achieving sexual and reproductive health and rights for women.

The event was also used as a platform to launch a report Community Innovation: Achieving sexual and reproductive health and rights for women and girls through the HIV response. Compiled by UNAIDS and the ATHENA Network, it presents case studies pioneering community undertakings to advance women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights through the HIV response and vice-versa, from different community perspectives. This report recognizes that women face unique challenges to access and fulfil their sexual and reproductive health and rights, including gender-based violence, and therefore have less access to HIV prevention, care and support services.

“Women and girls at every level and throughout different stages of their lives must be supported to demand quality services that meet their needs and those of their community,” said UNAIDS Deputy Executive Director, Programme, Dr Paul De Lay.

Learning from these community case studies is an opportunity to enhance the AIDS response, in light of the Millennium Development Goals and the 2011 Political Declaration on HIV/AIDS. The case studies indicate that for responses to be effective they must include the empowerment and inclusion of women in all their diversity, dedicate attention to sexual and reproductive health, including improvements in maternal and child health, and address the socio-cultural practices underlying gender inequality.

UNAIDS Getting to zero: strategy 2011-2015 also places gender equality and human rights as one of three core pillars. This report is part of that commitment to ensuring that women and girls’ rights are met through the HIV response and it was undertaken in the context of the UNAIDS Agenda for accelerated country action for women, girls, gender equality and HIV.

“UNAIDS continues to be a strong advocate for women’s health and rights, as well as to strongly stand against stigma and discrimination amongst all marginalized groups. We will continue to do so until we have achieved the vision of zero discrimination,” said Dr De Lay.

The full article is at


Millions of people around the world live on a few dollars a day. Even in the wealthiest of countries, some populations experience the greatest disparity. This graph, available at shows what percentage of a country’s population is living on <$10 and >$10.  It is disconcerting that no Caribbean countries were included.

A larger graph is available at

Highlights of health news from around the region

PANCAP urged to do more to fight disease in region

(Jamaican Observer) — GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — The Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), which ended a two-day meeting here on Wednesday, has been urged to vigorously promote the cause of elimination of HIV as a public health threat in the Caribbean.

Guyana’s Health Minister Dr Leslie Ramsammy, who is also the chair of the PANCAP Executive Board said it was necessary to work towards a trajectory of long, healthy and productive lives for Caribbean citizens.

PANCAP, established in 2001, is the regional mechanism responsible for coordinating the Caribbean’s response to the HIV and AIDS epidemic.

Jamaicans making it difficult for gays to stay with one partner?

(Jamaica Observer) — ONE of the world’s leading bioethics publications, Developing World Bioethics Journal, says Jamaicans are making it difficult for men who have sex with men (MSM) to be monogamous. The publication also suggested that Health Minister Rudyard Spencer is unhappy with the fact that his government “continues to support legislation that contributes significantly to the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS among MSM”.

Sport for Health launched in Grenada

(Caribbean News Now) — ST GEORGE’S, Grenada—Principals and sporting ambassadors from each of Grenada’s 22 secondary schools attended the launch of the Windward Islands Research and Education Foundation’s (WINDREF) Sport for Health Program. 

A collaborative program between WINDREF, St George’s University, the Ministries of Sport and Health, and the Grenada National Olympic Committee, the goal is to help reduce the public health problem of chronic disease by increasing awareness and educating the public about delaying or preventing the onset of chronic disease by leading a healthier lifestyle.

Grenada gets funds for poverty reduction

(The Guardian, Trinidad) — ST GEORGE’S—The United Nations’ rural development agency is to co-finance a US$7.5-million project in Grenada designed to alleviate poverty in the Caribbean country, benefiting an estimated 12,000 members of poor communities on the main island and the isle of Carriacou. The UN International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will provide US$3 million in loan to the six-year Market Access and Rural Enterprise Development Programme to create jobs, improve market access and support rural micro-enterprise projects in 50 communities, according to an agreement signed in Rome between the Fund and Grenada’s government.

Ministry of Health hold consultation on strengthening the health system

(Dominica News Online) — The Ministry of Health convened the first in a series of consultations on “Strengthening the Health Systems and Engaging the Private Sector” on Thursday March 31, 2011, at the Garraway Hotel.

Stakeholders from both the Private and Health Sectors participated in the half day consultation to dialogue on priorities for technical assistance in health system strengthening and private sector engagement. They were to provide a rationale for improving the sustainability of HIV/AIDS programming and the health sector, and also to develop a framework for future collaboration between the health and private sectors

Commentary: Poor indoor air quality a potentially explosive health crisis in the Caribbean

(Caribbean News Now) — On the outside the sunny Caribbean is known for its hot balmy weather mediated by cool island breeze, creating a literal tropical paradise. On the inside lurks the real culprit—high humidity and temperatures and the ever present mildew.

Because our building designs, laws, regulations and building codes have not taken into consideration the combination of outdoor and indoor air quality, workers and employers are now forced into an unnecessary standoff. Consequently, the Caribbean is on the verge of a worsening trend of sick building syndrome (SBS) as workers in several islands threaten employers with labour action unless they take serious stock of the poor quality of indoor air in their workplaces.

New study links HIV testing centers with Domestic Violence screening and counseling

Courtesy Duke Global Health

A new study from Duke University recently reported the recommendation of HIV intimate partner violence (IPV) screening at HIV voluntary counseling and testing centers (VTC). The study, conducted in Tanzania, interviewed more than 2400 women at the HIV VTC site, of which 20% reported physical or sexual violence during their lifetime. “Researchers found that domestic violence, defined in this study as intimate partner violence (IPV), was reported more often among women who are older, unemployed, less educated, married or divorced, and have children. Also, women with IPV were more likely to suspect HIV or infidelity in their sexual partner or have a sexual partner who has multiple partners.

This study has important implications for HIV and IPV interventions not just in Eastern and Southern Africa but also in the Caribbean region since there has been increased focus on DV, including child abuse, and IPV across the region.

In addition, studies such as this could also be conducted at DV centers to assess who within their population is most at risk for contracting HIV. I wanted to share this study because it reminded me of my own volunteer work in the Virgin Islands with a DV organization, and made me think of the various ways investigators could conduct studies within that population.

To read the full report on the Tanzania study, visit Duke Global Health website here.