Written by: Nicole Walter, Program Manager, Data for Good at Meta
Breakthrough ACTION, USAID’s global social and behavior change project, catalyzes social and behavior change by designing and implementing evidence-based solutions to improve health and development programs around the world. When COVID-19 emerged in late 2019, Breakthrough ACTION was already working on social and behavior change for family planning/reproductive health, malaria, HIV, and other health issues across the globe, including under the Global Health Security Agenda.
Over the coming months, as it became clear that COVID-19 would touch every community in time, USAID expanded Breakthrough ACTION’s scope of work to assist countries in their fight against COVID-19. By June 2020, Breakthrough ACTION was implementing COVID-19 social and behavior change activities in 22 countries. To date, over a billion people have been reached with lifesaving COVID-19 prevention messages.
COVID-19 Trends and Impact Survey
One critical resource that informs their global COVID-19 campaigns is the COVID Behaviors Dashboard, which was developed using data from the COVID-19 Trends and Impact Survey (CTIS). The CTIS was designed and conducted through a partnership between Meta’s Data for Good program, the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs (CCP), Carnegie Mellon University Delphi Research Center, and the University of Maryland Joint Program in Survey Methodology. This global survey is fielded in more than 130 countries and promoted daily on Facebook to help academic partners learn real-time information on COVID-19 vaccine acceptance, preventative behaviors, symptoms, and more. In addition to using these data to inform their COVID-19 strategies and campaigns across the world, Breakthrough ACTION uses the COVID Behaviors Dashboard to keep their partners updated on weekly trends as well as to compare and supplement other data sources that they use for their research and programming.
The CTIS has been an important source of data on behavior in many of the countries where Breakthrough ACTION is working on COVID-19 related programming. This survey provides continuous data on structural barriers people are facing, reasons for vaccine hesitancy, information on prevention behaviors and changing norms—it has filled a critical data gap in many of the counties in which we work.
Dominick Shattuck, Director of Research, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning, Breakthrough ACTION
COVID-19 Prevention and Vaccination Campaigns in the Philippines
One example of Breakthrough ACTION’s COVID-19 prevention and vaccine campaigns is their work with the government of the Philippines and other stakeholders to implement social and behavior change activities at the local and national levels. In collaboration with the Philippines Department of Health (DOH), they developed BIDA Solusyon, a mass media campaign in 2020 to remind citizens to practice key behaviors to prevent the spread of COVID-19. CTIS data and the COVID Behaviors Dashboard were a critical part of this campaign that reached over 100 million people in all parts of the country and can still be seen in malls and markets today.
The COVID Behaviors Dashboard provides two important things: 1) national and subnational insight and 2) structural and hesitancy issues. Both are important to know whether supply or demand (or both) issues need to be prioritized and at which level should that response happen (national or local).
Dr. Alphonse Regala, Chief, Program Implementation and Outreach Division, Health Promotion Bureau, Department of Health
In April 2022, the DOH launched the BIDA KID campaign to keep people in the “prevention mindset” as they return to work and other activities and kids return to school. To date, over 21 million people have been reached with the catchy jingle and prevention messages, which echo the original BIDA campaign, adapted for kids and schools.
Cathy Church-Balin, Senior Technical Advisor for Breakthrough ACTION in the Philippines, explains, “We did a great job of making people believe COVID-19 is dangerous. Now, we have to help them believe they have the efficacy to keep safe as they go back to school and back to work.”
To further encourage preventive behaviors, Breakthrough ACTION also used CTIS data to uncover that local health care workers are a trusted source of COVID-19 information in the Philippines. Using this information, the project supported health care workers to improve their counseling skills and counter vaccine misinformation and hesitancy. Breakthrough ACTION also shared the COVID Behaviors Dashboard with the news media, which used it to track prevention behaviors such as mask-wearing and to understand issues around vaccine hesitancy.
Currently, the DOH and Breakthrough ACTION are working on targeting seniors and those who support them since they have seen a troubling trend of seniors resisting vaccination based on CTIS data on the COVID Behaviors Dashboard. To this end, the DOH, with support from Breakthrough ACTION, is launching the Get Vaxxed for Good Vibes campaign featuring a catchy and popular song that appeals to older adults. This campaign is also strongly encouraging people to get their booster shots.
Breakthrough ACTION will use the learnings from this work to expand their social and behavior change work in the Philippines to dengue fever and other health issues that affect the lives of millions of Filipinos every day.