Health for All Campaign in Ethiopia: Keeping the Ball Rolling for UHC

Health for All Campaign in Ethiopia: Keeping the Ball Rolling for UHC

 {Photo credit: Anteneh Tesfaye Lemma/MSH.}Producing a TV spot on social health insurance in Ethiopia.Photo credit: Anteneh Tesfaye Lemma/MSH.

It was sudden and unexpected. It was also funny: the ball exploded and deflated right under Teferi's foot. But everybody started to worry when the director screamed: “We can’t shoot the next scene without the football! Somebody get me a new one!”

I looked at the young boy actor. Tears were about to wash his gloomy face as the ball changed into a useless piece of flat plastic right before his cloudy eyes. "This is bad!" I said to myself. "The kid might not be willing to act anymore; we might be forced to start the production all over again!"

We were shooting one of the scenes for a TV public service announcement. Producing the TV spot is one of the major activities for the Health for All Campaign–the campaign supporting the popularization of Ethiopia’s New Health Insurance Scheme.

It was ironic: the TV spot promotes preparing for unforeseen emergencies. Yet, once the ball became useless, we realized that we were not ready for an emergency ourselves.

After minutes of unsuccessful attempts to fix the ball, one of the producers finally went out to find another one. This cost us additional "out of pocket" expense of 20 birr and delayed our shooting schedule by 25 minutes.

[The production team prepares to resume filming.] {Photo credit: Anteneh Tesfaye Lemma }The production team prepares to resume filming.Photo credit: Anteneh Tesfaye Lemma

Despite this hiccup, the entire shooting day was quite an experience for me personally. I worked with my all-time favorite journalist and actor, Teferi Alemu, who made even the most tiresome moments fun and entertaining. Elisabeth Melaku, a highly respected actress, played the mother of a 7-year-old boy. It was a delight to see her handling the rebelling kid actor whenever he refused to take part in the shooting. It was as if she was his real mother. By the end of the shooting, we realized it took us four packs of biscuits to keep him interested.

The whole day was part of a larger effort to popularize the Social Health Insurance Scheme through celebrities, including the airing of this TV spot during a “Social Health Insurance month” campaign. The Health for All Campaign has been supporting these efforts from the very beginning. The cost of the production (excluding the cost for the extra ball) is fully covered by our campaign—a contribution we are highly proud of.

While we were waiting for the new ball to resume the shooting, I started teasing the director saying, “You need to prepare for emergencies like this.” Smiling he inquired, “What should I have done?”

“Bringing an extra ball would be a start. And, oh, enroll in Social Health Insurance,” I said, smiling back at him.

Social Health Insurance month, led by our key government partner, the Ethiopian Health Insurance Agency, and sponsored by Health for All, includes a media competition. Many journalists are already showing interest to report stories and produce documentaries about Social Health Insurance. I witnessed this during the press conference the Agency gave on December 25, 2013, and the subsequent media coverage on different radio and TV stations. The one-month campaign also includes visits to Community-Based Health Insurance pilot sites and campaign publicity.

The Health for All Campaign, made possible by a generous grant from The Rockefeller Foundation, will continue to be part of the communications task force pushing the popular mobilization of Ethiopia’s new Health Insurance Scheme.

Even though the ball deflated very early, we got another one and the TV production continued. The public service announcement is finalized and airing on TVs throughout Ethiopia. And, most importantly, our passion for the campaign is still fresh and strong.

As long as our team remains committed to ensuring all Ethiopians have access to quality health care, the ball keeps rolling.

Watch the public service announcement

Anteneh Tesfaye Lemma is a communications specialist for MSH’s Health for All Campaign for Universal Health Coverage in Africa, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.

View more behind-the-scenes photos in Featured Images below.