TV to end malaria? Senegal TV drama aims to educate viewers


Click to watch the first episode of Le Champion de Bonaba.

On October 13, the final episode of Le Champion de Bonaba, a popular PATH-developed television series aimed at educating viewers about malaria best practices, is set to air on Senegalese national television.

To support the country’s elimination goals, the PATH team in Senegal and the National Malaria Control Program (NMCP) developed a ten-part educational television drama called Le Champion de Bonaba—an innovative approach to accelerate the elimination of the disease.

Le Champion follows the story of Daouda, a young man from the Senegalese village of Bonaba who makes it his mission to fight malaria in his community after his wife dies of the disease while pregnant with their first child. Daouda finds an ally in local nurse Fama Thioune as he faces obstacles in his quest to educate his community about malaria prevention and treatment.

The PATH team in Senegal developed the original concept for the series and has been significantly involved at all stages of the show’s progression. They have been working closely with NMCP and Marodi TV, a local television network, to develop the script and promote the series.

The show is filmed in Wolof (one of the local languages) and has quickly gained popularity in Senegal since the pilot episode aired on September 13. Le Champion occupies the slot following the 8 o’clock news on national television and averages more than 1 million viewers each week. More than 60,000 viewers have watched the first episode on YouTube.

The series aims to educate viewers about malaria prevention and treatment options and affect change at a community level.

At the end of each ten-minute episode, viewers have a chance to test their knowledge (and win prizes!) by texting in answers to questions like: What should you do in case of fever? (Correct answer: Go to a health post and get a malaria rapid diagnostic test, or RDT.)

As Le Champion wraps up its last episode, the team in Senegal has plans to air the series as a full film and are working on producing plays in more local languages. Depending on funding, the show may be brought back for a second season.

Le Champion is a part of Zero Malaria Starts with Me! (Zero Palu! Je M’engage! in French), a national campaign in partnership with MACEPA, the NMCP, and Speak Up Africa designed to create malaria-free communities across Senegal. The partnership leverages existing messaging platforms developed by the NMCP and promotes best practices around sanitation, systematic use of insecticide-treated bednets, early RDTs in case of fever, and free diagnostics and treatment.

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