Rx Radio

On 20 May 2017 a service called RX Radio started broadcasting from a studio located in the foyer of the outpatients department of the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa.

The service being relayed through the hospital’s internal television system to all wards and public spaces in the hospital and also on its website.

“While there are a number of children’s hospital radio stations globally, what makes RX Radio unique is that it involves patients as programme producers and broadcast presenters, with the explicit aim of sharing and improving children’s experiences of illness and hospital,” says Dr Gabriel Urgoiti, the Station Manager.

The service was originally formed on 1 December 2016. “The brainchild of Urgoiti and Sue Valentine, the station has been established by working with the Red Cross Children’s Hospital facility board and the Children’s Hospital Trust.”

In October 2017 the service reported that they had trained a total of 38 child/young reporters. 17 of the children had permanent shows and features and a further 19 participated in pre-recorded interviews and live shows but not on a regular basis. 2 further children were currently not actively participating.

The service reported “On weekdays RX Radio is currently broadcasting repeats and pre-recorded shows from 13:30 – 16:30, depending on the length of the show. Every second and last Saturday of the month we broadcast LIVE shows from 09:00 – 15:00 and we play music in between”.

In addition to Dr Gabriel Urgoiti, the adult team supporting the children includes Noluyolo Ngomani (Senior Radio Producer), Wayne Boonzaaier (Junior Radio Producer) and Ramabina Mahapa (Project Officer)

Dr. Urgoiti reported: “During 2008 I conducted an extensive consultation process with all departments and stakeholders at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital. There was overwhelming support for the initiative.

A workshop to pilot the approach to children’s initial training in radio programme production was held in 2009. The audio programmes produced by the child participants about their experiences of illness in hospital generated widespread interest.

In addition to being broadcast on national radio, they have been shared and discussed on multiple platforms including in the Red Cross Hospital weekly clinical meeting presentation, post-graduate nurses training, disability studies post-graduate training, training for media workers, and child-rights training for health professionals, among others.

Feedback from participants’ parents as well as health professionals who have heard the programmes points directly to the value of the process in opening up communication and enhancing adults understanding of children’s experiences. In particular health workers, including well-established paediatricians, articulated their surprise at children’s capacity to both understand and engage their illness and its treatment”.

Aims and Objectives of RX Radio:

RX Radio, by and for children, aims to create a platform for communication between hospitalised children, their families, and the health services by providing children with the skills and support to produce and broadcast radio programmes across the hospital.

We strive to:

  • Improve children’s experiences of hospital and of their illness;
  • Increase adult understanding of children’s experiences of chronic illness/hospital;
  • Inform improved health worker and hospital practice;
  • Investigate the impact of a child participatory radio intervention on hospitalised  children, their caregivers and on the health services, and
  • Produce quality audio programmes by children and for children.