Using Social Media to Encourage the Uptake of Malaria Preventive Treatment by Pregnant Women in Nigeria

December 22, 2022

Using Social Media to Encourage the Uptake of Malaria Preventive Treatment by Pregnant Women in Nigeria

Two years into our partnership with Meta, we used ad credits to run social behavior change campaigns on Facebook and Instagram, encouraging the uptake of malaria preventive treatment among pregnant women. This work builds on the lessons of a pilot campaign in 2021, which focused on encouraging the uptake of COVID-19 vaccine among men in Nigeria. 

Executive summary ​  

Between March and November 2022, MSH partnered with Meta to develop and launch an ad campaign to boost ongoing efforts by our malaria program teams. We ran the online campaigns in Delta, Ogun, Oyo, Cross River, and Benue states because, in addition to having active programs in these states, they have large audiences of women on Facebook that could be targeted with ad campaigns. 

To achieve the campaign’s objective of encouraging women to take all prescribed malaria preventive treatment during pregnancy, we developed messaging focused on addressing the key barriers to malaria treatment uptake: lack of awareness of the importance of taking the medication, concerns about the safety of the medication, and a lack of knowledge about where to access it. In consultation with our programs, we also identified one of the key drivers likely to encourage women to receive malaria preventive treatment as the desire to give birth to healthy babies free from malaria complications. In our consultations, health workers were identified as trusted sources of health information among the people we work with. Other pregnant women were identified as strong peer influencers. 

These insights helped us develop our messaging, which highlighted the safety of the medications and called on women to take responsibility for protecting the health of their babies, giving them agency. We also used the images of health workers in our campaign creatives, complemented by images of women who have taken the medications. A common feature of the campaign creatives was a “Learn More” tab that served as a call to action for the audience to visit the MSH website to learn about how they can be protected from malaria.  

Overall, comparing the period of August–November 2022 (when our online campaign was active) to the same period in 2021, MSH’s website saw users from Nigeria increase from 7,911 to 25,432, an increase of 221%. This demonstrated that approximately 16,000 Nigerians took an active step to learn more about preventing malaria because of the campaign. This group was 63% female, and the largest age demographic was 25-34, demonstrating that the campaign was effective in reaching the target group.  


The campaign ran in two phases, August 18-September 18 and October 24-November 24, targeting women aged 18-45. The first phase focused on messaging about the safety and importance of taking malaria preventive medications, and the second phase included an additional message about where women can go to access malaria preventive treatment. During this time, the campaigns reached 2.07 million people in Phase 1 and 2.45 million people in Phase 2, together reaching more than 4.5 million people between August and November. Using Meta’s brand lift study tool, we measured some encouraging results:  


Next Steps 

This campaign taught us that there is a lot of potential in using digital tools to complement the work in our existing health programs, especially in countries like Nigeria where there is a significant number of people on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. This provides a great opportunity for our communications team to work with technical teams across our programs in providing solutions that would lead to achieving program goals.