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Written by Nathaly Aya Pastrana   

TV spots educating to prevent vector borne diseases in Latin America

Mosquito-borne viral diseases are a major concern for global public health. In recent years Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika have spread globally and are diseases mostly transmitted by mosquitoes of the species Aedes Aegypti. The World Health Organization (WHO), international and national health organizations acknowledge the importance of prevention and control measures to decrease the incidence of these diseases globally, particularly among tropical and sub-tropical countries such as those of Latin America.

Health organizations in Latin America have placed efforts to raise awareness, educate, and improve community participation to prevent the transmission of these diseases, by promoting specific changes in behavior among the population, that include among others: using household protection and covering, emptying or cleaning potential mosquito breeding sites. One of the communication tools that national health authorities are using to involve communities is TV spots. Some examples are:

The educational campaign “Mission Zika”, launched in May 2016 in collaboration by Cartoon Network Latin America, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and UNICEF, intends to raise awareness about Zika in the region using superheroes such as the Powerpuff Girls and Ben 10, to engage children and motivate them to advocate for disease prevention at home, in their schools and communities. Click on the links to view the TV spots in English, or in their version in Spanish.

Elmo and Raya from Sesame Street are also advocates of Zika prevention among Latin American populations (see video).


In Argentina the Ministry of Health has produced TV spots informing the population about how to prevent Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika, the diseases sympthons, and the life cycle of the mosquito. They also have two campaigns providing education about the diseases: “El Dengador”, a comic in which an animated frog gives recommendations on how to avoid the creation of mosquito breeding sites (see TV spot), and “El Mosquito Lito”, a children’s story with the same purpose (see TV spot).


The Federal Government of Brazil also provides communication channels and tools to raise awareness about the diseases among their population. For example, in the campaign “Zika Zero” the actress Camilia Pitanga, a public spokesperson for UN Women in the region, informs the general audience about the risks of Zika virus (see TV spot). Another spot showcases children as ambassadors and drivers of change within their communities (see TV spot).


Using humor and leveraging on cultural characteristics and common attitudes of the population, the Ministry of Health of Colombia, has also invested in campaigns such as “Cero Criaderos, Cero Mosquitos” (zero breeding grounds, zero mosquitoes), to influence the behavior of communities to prevent mosquitoes from accessing egg-laying habitats (see TV spot 1, TV spot 2). Additionally, with the 2014 campaign “Reto Antidengue en Casa” (anti-dengue challenge at home), the Government aimed at driving action among communities by taking the challenge to people’s homes (see TV spot).


Informational TV spots are commonly used to educate the general audience about the risks of diseases, the most vulnerable populations, and the best prevention measures. See the case of a Peruvian TV spot from the Ministry of Health.

The experiences from TV advertising in Latin America intend to raise awareness and educate viewers, expecting that a percentage of them change their behaviors. These practices provide insights that could be transferable to other similar regions of the world seeking to prevent vector borne diseases. How could social marketers use the reach of TV advertising and measure its impact in promoting behavioral changes among communities? Share your thoughts on iSMA’s social media channels (Twitter @isma_org, Facebook, LinkedIn Group)

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