In an attempt to break the social stigmas surrounding some of the most taboo issues in India and help young people make more informed decisions about their health, the internationally acclaimed social change organization MTV Staying Alive Foundation and Viacom18 have launched a campaign of behavior change around reproductive health and tuberculosis (TB), with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Johnson & Johnson Services Inc.

Recognized for its award-winning behavior change campaign in Africa, “MTV Shuga,” the MTV Staying Alive Foundation has partnered with Viacom18 to bring this new campaign, called “MTV Nishedh Live,” to India.

Through an educational grant from Johnson & Johnson Services Inc., the MTV Nishedh Live campaign will also focus the much-needed attention on tuberculosis, a contagious disease that is transmitted from person to person over the air. The goal is to help young people understand the first symptoms of tuberculosis and the importance of seeking early medical attention. TB is a preventable and treatable disease, however, there are 2.8 million new cases of active TB in India each year, more than in any other country in the world. The increasing resistance to the most commonly used antituberculosis drugs has made tackling tuberculosis even more challenging and drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) is now the leading cause of death due to antimicrobial resistance (RAM) at the level world.

The first phase of the campaign will be launched with a Hindi radio drama: MTV Nishedh Live presents The Radio Show with Megha that will premiere on October 1, 2019 at 9:00 pm on RED FM in New Delhi, Dehradun, Guwahati, Bhubaneshwar, Mumbai and Jamshedpur. Working together with the USAID Sustaining Health Outcomes project through the Private Sector (SHOPS) Plus project, the MTV Staying Alive Foundation hopes that the innovative radio program will encourage young people to engage in a healthy dialogue on reproductive health issues, provide them with information on available contraceptive methods, discredit myths and misconceptions, and encourage shared responsibility and consent.

“Public health programs have not focused enough on young people,” said Sangita Patel, director of USAID, the Indian Health Office. “We are delighted to support MTV Nishedh Live, which will provide young people with the modern and accurate information they deserve and help them build confidence in their own decision making.”

“It is time for more people to realize TB, eliminate the stigma associated with the disease and help those who need treatment to access the best possible care,” says Sarthak Ranade, Managing Director, Janssen India, Johnson & Johnson Private Limited “At Johnson & Johnson, we have been working closely with the Government of India, NGOs and other local partners to combat TB and DR-TB at all levels. Based on this commitment, our company is incredibly proud to support the MTV Nishedh Live campaign to empower young people to advocate for a tuberculosis-free India. ”

The unique radio program follows the dramatic story of RJ Megha, a young radio talent, while creating and producing a new radio program that addresses social taboos, while at the same time seeking answers to problems in his own life.

Georgia Arnold, executive director of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation stated: “At MTV Staying Alive, we use storytelling to save lives. We are very proud of the proven success that the similar program, MTV Shuga, has had in Africa over the past decade, and now we are excited to work in India with our partners to produce MTV Nishedh Live. MTV Nishedh Live will help break the social taboos around sexual and reproductive health and tuberculosis, creating attractive and entertaining content, and opening safe spaces for young people to have a voice, ask questions and access quality information, correctly and objectively correct. ”

“As a society, we have allowed social stigma to dominate our responsibility to encourage and educate young people. With this campaign, we want to correct this mentality that encourages taboos and produces a positive behavior change within the section of society that is most affected and the biggest potential agents of change, “said Sonia Huria, Head of Corporate Marketing, Communications and Sustainability, Viacom18.

MTV Nishedh Live aims to achieve a positive change in attitude and behavior towards reproductive health and tuberculosis, while encouraging young people in India to address these problems.

The campaign has partnered with SHOPS Plus to promote its toll-free helpline number 1800 258 0001 that provides free access to information on reproductive health and contraception. The radio program will also promote the toll-free national TB hotline number 1800 11 6666 where people can call for any questions or assistance related to TB

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