Windhoek — In an effort to spread the message on tuberculosis to the broader public the Ministry of Health and Social Services, through district tuberculosis (TB) and leprosy coordinators, is screening the Lucky Specials feature film at waiting rooms of health facilities countrywide.
Lucky Specials is a story about a guitarist and his friends on their journey to create a new musical sound and catapult their small-time band to the big stage.
Lucky Specials is a cover band in a dusty town of South Africa. Mandla (Oros Mampofu, Skeem Saam) is a miner by day and plays lead guitar for Lucky Specials by night. He dreams of making it big in the music industry.
When tragedy strikes, Mandla and Nkanyiso (Sivenathi Mabuya) struggle to hold everything together.
Lucky Specials is produced by Discovery Learning Alliance and Quizzical Pictures in association with Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Tangled Bank Studios, with support from Wellcome Trust, HHMI, and United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and PEPFAR, through Management Sciences for Health (MSH).
Mampofu and Mabuya are joined by director Rea Rangaka (Ode in Blood) and a phenomenal cast of known stars, including musician Blondie Makhene as Mandla's mentor Bra Easy; Richard Lukunku (Thina Sobabili), Thomas Gumede (A Place Called Home) and Fulu Mugovhani (Ayanda) as Mandla's bandmates; and Linda Sebezo (Gauteng Maboneng) as a businesswoman who threatens to make Lucky Specials' dreams fall apart.
The Management Sciences for Health (Namibia) project associate, Wezi Tjaronda, said they distributed copies of the movie to district TB and leprosy coordinators in June this year with the aim to screen it at TB wards and waiting rooms.
Tjaronda explained that the idea behind the screening at health facilities was to disseminate the message in the movie to TB patients and caregivers.
TB remains a health challenge in Namibia, specifically in connection with HIV infections.
Namibia ranks among the worst TB-affected countries in the world, according to the U.S Ambassador to Namibia, Thomas Daughton, at a meeting he had with TB patients in March.
"More than 90 percent of all TB cases in 2015 were screened for HIV, and about 40 percent of these were co-infected with HIV," said the ambassador.
"TB wards and patient waiting rooms are target areas where TB patients are concentrated," noted Tjaronda.
Tjaronda stressed the importance of screening Lucky Specials to the general public because it educates on the risks, prevention and treatment of TB.
This would increase the understanding of the reality of living with the disease, while countering misinformation and stigma associated with TB, which hinders people from healthcare services.
The movie also aims to "assure people that TB is curable if patients stick to their treatment", said Tjaronda.
So far the movie has been received positively by people who have watched it, added Tjaronda. "But still, it is too soon to tell the impact it has had on the general population."
"The impact of the movie will be felt once the movie has been screened to a much wider audience and over a period of time. Presently, most health facilities have not been able to screen the film because some do not have TV screens while others do not have DVD players."
Plans are underway to have the movie screened on the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation.
"The Management Sciences for Health and the Discovery Learning Alliance (right holder) are in negotiations with NBC to have the film broadcast on television and radio to reach a wider audience," said Tjaronda. Lucky Specials premiered in February in Johannesburg, South Africa.
In Namibia, the screening started in June in TB wards and patient waiting rooms of public health facilities.
"The movie has also been screened to some pharmacy and medicine students at the University of Namibia's School of Health Sciences," added Tjaronda.
Management Sciences for Health works in partnership with people at all levels of the health system, from ministers of health to community leaders to build local capacity. Management Sciences for Health programmes deliver sustainable results while empowering local leaders to achieve greater health impact, according to their website.
Management Sciences for Health also works with health leaders throughout the world on global health's biggest challenges, with a focus on HIV & AIDS, TB, malaria, chronic diseases, family planning, and maternal and child health.