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International News

Yams and Mosquito Nets on Nigeria's "Sesame Street"

September 21, 2010

Since its US debut 40 years ago, the children's educational TV program "Sesame Street" has spread to more than 140 nations. Next month, a version of the show, renamed "Sesame Square," and customized to speak to location-specific issues, will debut in Nigeria.

"When we did the pilot, our focus was orphaned and vulnerable children and still is to a certain extent," said Ayobisi Osuntusa, head of education outreach for the non-profit Sesame Workshop, which produces the show.


In one episode, a yam-eating Muppet named Zobi encourages kids to sleep under mosquito nets, a critical matter in Africa, where malaria kills one child every 30 seconds. A yellow Muppet called Kami talks openly about her mother's death from AIDS, delivering important information about blood safety as well as the need to accept those living with HIV.

"So I think 'Sesame Street,' targeted at children, will be very effective, especially if children come home and tell their parents that it's OK to play with HIV-positive children," said Agatha Nkiruka David, a consultant at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research who runs a social club for teens with HIV.

This message of acceptance is sorely needed in Nigeria, where, despite a culture that values family connections, HIV-infected orphans are rarely taken in by relatives.

Because only one-quarter of Nigerian homes have a TV, Sesame Workshop has developed companion learning materials for kids and is looking into using radios and cell phones to spread its messages. It also is seeking corporate sponsors to expand its efforts.

Back to other news for September 2010

Adapted from:
Reuters Life!
09.17.2010; Yinka Ibukun

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More News on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria

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