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MTV Staying Alive Foundation and Viacom18 launch a youth-focused campaign

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

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

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

“Public Health programs have not focused enough on youth,” said Sangita Patel, Director of USAID, India’s Health Office. “We’re delighted to support MTV Nishedh Live, which will give young people the modern, accurate information they deserve and help them build confidence in their own decision-making.” 

Through an educational grant from Johnson & Johnson Services Inc., the MTV Nishedh Live campaign will also focus much-needed attention on TB, a contagious disease spread from person to person through the air. The goal is to help young people understand the early symptoms of TB and the importance of seeking medical care early. TB is a preventable and treatable disease, yet there are 2.8 million new cases of active TB in India every year – more than any other country in the world. Growing resistance to the most commonly-used TB medicines has made addressing TB even more challenging and drug-resistant TB (DR-TB) is now the leading cause of deaths due to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) globally.   

“It’s time to make more people aware of TB, remove the stigma associated with the disease, and help those in need of treatment 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. Building on this commitment, our company is incredibly proud to support the MTV Nishedh Live campaign to empower youth to advocate for a TB-free India.”

The unique radio show follows the dramatic story of RJ Megha, a young radio talent, as she creates and produces a new radio show tackling social taboos, while at the same time, searching for answers to problems in her own life.

“As a society we have allowed social stigma to overpower our responsibility to encourage and educate youth. With this campaign we want to course correct this mindset that encourages taboos and bring about positive behaviour change within the section of society that is simultaneously most affected and the biggest potential change agents.” said Sonia Huria, Head - Corporate Marketing, Communications and Sustainability, Viacom18.

MTV Nishedh Live aims to bring about a positive change in attitude and behaviours towards reproductive health and tuberculosis while encouraging young people in India to address these issues.

Georgia Arnold, Executive Director of the MTV Staying Alive Foundation stated, “At MTV Staying Alive, we use storytelling to save lives. We’re very proud of the proven success that the similar program, MTV Shuga, has had across Africa over the last decade, and now we’re excited to be working in India with our partners to produce MTV Nishedh Live.  MTV Nishedh Live will help to break down social taboos around sexual and reproductive health and tuberculosis, by creating engaging and entertaining content, and opening up safe spaces for young people to have a voice, ask questions and access quality, relatable and factually correct information.” 

The campaign is partnering with SHOPS Plus to promote their toll free helpline number 1800 258 0001 which provides free access to information on Reproductive Health and contraception. The radio show will also promote the national TB toll free helpline number 1800 11 6666 where people can phone in for any TB related query or assistance

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