Radio Program in Chantaburi Offers Life-Saving Advice on Malaria Prevention
The ‘Love Your Health’ radio program hosted by the head of the Malaria Clinic in Khaeng Harng Maew District, Chanthaburi is a community favourite. CONTAINMENT’s Nat Sumon tells why.
If you live in Khaeng Harng Maew district, Chanthaburi, where there is only one strong radio frequency, your favorite entertainment channel would definitely be the local radio network FM95.75.
Among the variety of programs carried by FM95.75, the most popular slot seems to be a one-hour health program every Wednesday called “Rak Sukaphab” or “Love Your Health”. Undoubtedly the listening audience, attracted by the easy-listening music, tune in faithfully every Wednesday to the health program that has helpful tips on how to lead a healthy lifestyle.
“Love Your Health” also has a call-in facility that allows listeners to interact with the presenter Anukoon Charunthup, who is also head of the Malaria Clinic in Khaeng Harng Maew District, Chanthaburi. The program allows listeners to phone in to ask any health-related questions they might have. And as an indication of the radio program’s popularity, the station’s phone is always ringing off the hook.
Anukoon tells CONTAINMENT that he began hosting the “Love Your Health” radio program about five years ago when the local radio network was just launched.
“Chantaburi is no stranger to vector-borne diseases,” he says. “The health topics that I cover in my radio program range from malaria, dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases.”
Anukoon’s radio program is important for Khaeng Harng Maew residents especially during the rainy season. “It’s the rainy season when diseases like malaria and dengue are rife and I use the radio program to disseminate preventive messages and tips on how listeners will be able to protect themselves from falling sick,” he adds.
But there is a humourous side to Anukoon, too. He tells CONTAINMENT that malaria is also known as “khai-mae-yai-bua” in Thai, which means “fever that pisses your mother-in-law off!”
Anukoon explains. “When you have malaria, you can’t work to feed your family, and that’s when the mother-in-law becomes cross because her daughter and grandchildren would have to go hungry.”
The Malaria Clinic head in Khaeng Harng Maew District made it clear that the most vulnerable group to malaria are male wage earners.
“Because of this, my program gives advice on where these workers would be able to get mosquito repellents and insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent themselves from getting malaria,” adds Anukoon. The “Love Your Health” radio call-in program also tells these workers where the locations of the malaria clinics are and assures them that diagnosis and treatment is free of charge.
Though Anukoon believes that local people are very acquainted with malaria, its symptoms, and vector control and prevention measures, he, however, tells CONTAINMENT that they need to be reminded of the dangers of malaria during the rainy season.
Anukoon has been presenting “Love Your Health” for about five years and is now building up the capacity of his staff to co-host the show to add diversity to the radio program and also fill in as main presenters when he has to travel outside the district for meetings and workshops.
“My hope is that by building up the capacity of my staff as presenters, they would in turn be able to start their own malaria radio shows if they are promoted and transferred out of the district,” he explains.
But wearing two hats at one time can be tiring for Anukoon. “I frequently get calls from listeners asking me where I was in the previous week, for instance, because they didn’t hear my voice on radio,” he explains.
But the rewards are always gratifying. “Every week I get e-mails and calls from listeners telling me how much they enjoyed my show and how useful the health messages were to them,” says Anukoon. “That’s enough to keep me going.”