Johns Hopkins center to co-host conference for social and behavior change communication professionals

More than 1,100 people expected to attend summit in Indonesia

More than 1,100 social and behavior change communication professionals from around the world will meet from April 16 to 20 in Nusa Dua, Indonesia, for the 2018 International Social and Behavior Change Communication Summit, co-hosted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs.

Expected to be the largest gathering of its kind, the 2018 SBCC Summit offers an opportunity for social and behavior change communication, or SBCC, professionals to share knowledge and research, strengthen networks, and set the agenda for the field. The summit received a record 1,250 abstracts submitted from 95 countries and will feature more than 250 oral presentations, 33 preformed panels, and 34 skills-building workshops featuring leaders in the field of social and behavior change communication. There will be a multimedia video showcase and even a fringe festival.

"This summit will build on the success of our inaugural summit in Ethiopia in 2016, where we pledged to elevate the prominence of SBCC in the development world, embrace the richness and diversity of approaches that make up our field, and invest in strengthening the evidence base for social and behavior change," says Susan Krenn, executive director of CCP, who leads the group planning the 2018 summit. "This summit will take us even further, as the field of social and behavior change communication becomes even more visible and prominent in the development space."

Social and behavior change communication works to raise awareness, reduce misinformation, and address the barriers that prevent people, their families, and their communities from practicing lifesaving behaviors to improve health and development outcomes. The full breadth of disciplines that contribute to behavior change will be represented at the summit, including entertainment-education, behavioral economics, and human-centered design. The summit will feature topics from family planning to nutrition to gender, with presenters from all corners of the world, and will highlight innovations that work and can be used to inspire people worldwide to improve their lives through behavior change.

Keynote speakers will include Nila Farid Moeloek, Indonesia's Minister of Health; Miguel Sabido, a pioneer in the field of entertainment-education; Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq, a member of Pakistan's Senate and the prime minister's point person on the nation's polio eradication programs; and Nahla Valji, the senior gender adviser in the United Nations' Executive Office of the Secretary-Genera.

Danielle Naugle, a research and evaluation officer at CCP, will present several pieces of research, including a look at communication between spouses. The culture in Mali can make it very difficult for couples to communicate, especially on topics such as their bodies, bodily functions, and sex. Often the women are married at young ages and move in with their in-laws, where they feel embarrassed to have what are considered taboo conversations— even with their husbands.

Naugle and her colleagues found that just 30 percent of the participants in a survey of 4,409 women of reproductive age in the West African nation said they had spoken to their husbands in the previous year about family planning.

But those who did were nine times more likely to use modern contraception than those who had not communicated with their spouses. What was more surprising was that those who had communicated about family planning were more than twice as likely to have taken their children for treatment for a cough and nearly twice as likely to have gotten pre-natal care, delivered their babies at a health facility and been tested for HIV during pre-natal care visits.

"These behaviors are not really related to family planning and yet those who communicated about family planning were more likely to adopt a whole list of healthy behaviors," Naugle says.

Along with learning about the newest research, many attendees say they are excited about the many opportunities that await them at the summit.

"It's a rare opportunity to identify partnership opportunities and meet old and make new friends," says Babafunke Fagbemi, executive director of the Centre for Communication and Social Impact in Nigeria. "We will share our experiences, learn new things, network, and return to our work energized to apply nothing but the best."