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Attention is prevention: A Mexican early intervention campaign with a big impact

In Mexico, perinatal risk factors are one of the leading causes of reported disability. If these risks go unrecognised, young children are unlikely to be appropriately monitored, and health outcomes can be impacted, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography in Mexico. 

The Association in Favour of People with Cerebral Palsy (APAC) has been focused on detection and early intervention for decades, attempting to stimulate brain plasticity in children aged 0 – 6 years who have been identified as high risk of cerebral palsy due to birth conditions.

Isis Lemus is the Corporate and Socially Responsible Investments Liaison Officer at APAC, and one of the key people responsible for putting the Attention is Prevention campaign in place.

According to Isis, early intervention makes early diagnosis possible, and allows APAC to place children into rehabilitation programs—improving outcomes for development, and reducing severity of conditions. With this support it’s more achievable for children to attend mainstream early childhood programs and schooling.

“APAC has always put special emphasis on its Early Detection and Intervention program,” says Isis.

“However, around a decade ago, we started to fully understand the immense impact it has on our beneficiaries, and the many benefits it brings to babies and children with high neurological risks.

“So, in 2015, APAC developed the five-question quiz which would ultimately be included in the mobile application as part of the Attention is Prevention campaign, ” Isis says.

“Since then, our team went on to look for ways to raise awareness on the issue and share it through a technological tool. The perfect opportunity came when we got the grant from the Mexican Fundacion Gonzalo Rio Arronte in 2018,” Isis says.

Taking it all to the next level

So, in 2018, APAC sought to take a more disruptive approach to early intervention.

A team of key players inside the organisation came together to look at ways to force the attention of people on to prevention and early intervention for the high-risk age-group.

With the Director of Fundraising, Director of Physical Therapy and Health Services, a Project Manager and various in-house clinical experts on board, the project quickly morphed into shape.

The team began working on a mobile app and an advertising campaign. The first aimed at sharing knowledge. The second aimed at making sure people sat up and paid attention.

In-house, they began working on a quiz for the app which would be used to monitor children at critical milestones. They also developed useful content and tips to help families understand what to do with the results they observed in their child.

At the same time, the project team began working with an external advertising agency to create a campaign that challenged many commonly used phrases in the Mexican culture.

For example, the campaign replaced the phrase ‘He looks fine to me’, with the phrase ‘You’d better observe him’.

The app was officially launched on 1 April 2019 alongside the marketing campaign which included alliances with other organisations, social media, a website and plenty of traditional channels like posters and flyers distributed strategically across Mexico City.

Within the first two months of the campaign and app launch, the results were fantastic!

There was an increase in free initial assessments being completed in April and May of 2019 which had increased by 50 per cent compared to February and March of the same year.

A massive 32,211 people had visited the campaign’s landing page with 289 downloads of the app.

The numbers across every channel offered the project team enormous hope for the success of the two initiatives under the Attention is Prevention banner.

Since the 2019 Word CP Day Awards

Isis explains that the project team sees great potential in the reach and impact of Attention is Prevention not only outside Mexico City, but across all of Latin America and into the Spanish speaking communities of America.

With that in mind, the project team partnered with a digital marketing agency to roll out a digital campaign (specifically designed to increase app downloads) alongside another round of printed materials.

They are now at more than 4600 downloads of the app and have seen a significant increase in initial evaluations scheduled at APAC.  

The team are also looking to for additional funding to use the app as a research tool through the implementation of geolocation.

What if a program like this never existed?

Isis says that historically, Mexican governments have not made an effort to promote the benefits of early intervention programs or encouraged parents to be involved in their child’s development.

“In fact, very few public programs are available, and when they are, access to them is severely restricted,” Isis says.

“As with many other issues, access to quality health services is very limited in Mexico for people with low incomes.

“We believe this campaign has worked towards dispelling all kinds of myths regarding child development and we’re lucky to witness many positive results.”

Project funded by: Fundacion Gonzalo Rio Arronte I.A.P, Nacional Monte de Piedad, AXXA Seguros, Fundacion Soriana, OXXOå