Doordarshan has bagged the prestigious Commonwealth Programme Award 2001 for the Social Action Television programme for its leprosy awareness and prevention campaign that was carried out in 1999-2000.
With India accounting for 60% of the world leprosy cases, Doordarshan joined hands BBC World Service in September 1999, to spread awareness about leprosy in India. The campaign was launched in UP, MP, Bihar, West Bengal and Orissa. In the first phase of the project, 24 social advertising spots were broadcast during January – February 2000, coinciding with door to door drive for leprosy eradication.
In the second phase 17 short films and 5 talk shows were produced by Doordarshan kendras located in the focus states. Adopting the drama in a folklore format, these short films gave the message about overcoming the stigma associated with leprosy. A special programme anchored by film star Jackie Shroff and Manisha Koirala was also screened on DD National Network.
The result of the leprosy campaign on TV and radio beat the expectations. More than two lakh people most of them new case came forward for treatment. Independent research conducted by ORG Centre for Social Research indicated that the belief that leprosy is hereditary declined from 56% to about 19%.
The campaign was lauded by The World Health organisation. The successful partnership between Prasar Bharati and BBC World Service Trust is now being extended to HIV/AIDS campaigns.