Youth have so much hope, and they are fun to work with because they have so many ideas. For them, nothing is impossible."
Gaëtane Blanc, social marketing director for the SHOPS Plus team in Haiti, is inspired by the young people in her country. “Youth have so much hope, and they are fun to work with because they have so many ideas. For them, nothing is impossible.”
After studying psychology at the State University of Haïti, Gaëtane took a job at PSI, where she educated youth on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV. During that time, she learned about the power of social marketing and social and behavior change communication. She worked on activities focused on water treatment, maternal and child health, STIs, and HIV. After PSI, she worked for CARE, Partners of the Americas, and eventually Abt Associates on the SHOPS Plus project.
“For me, social marketing is truly my passion,” says Gaëtane. “I think that social marketing can be a good tool for public health in Haiti, as they don’t know much about it here. I see a lot of opportunity in this country, because there are so many barriers [to] getting the necessary information that will improve our citizens’ health and life. . . The private sector has the funds but there is an opportunity to involve them more. The public sector has the authority to make decisions on health initiatives, but they don’t necessarily have the means. There is such an opportunity to bring these two sectors together more.”
The SHOPS Plus team in Haiti uses social and behavior change communication campaigns to increase the demand for family planning, child health, and home water treatment products. This work includes training and deploying health educators, developing mass media campaigns, and leveraging digital health platforms. The program also promotes awareness of Zika prevention efforts.
Gaëtane hopes that when the project ends in five years, individuals in her country will feel more empowered to actively seek information for themselves and for their families. “For me, I hope that SHOPS Plus helps empower people to be their own health advocates—to seek out the correct knowledge, make the appropriate changes to their behavior to improve their health, and to encourage others in their community to do the same.”