In case you missed our symposium last week – Global Health Then and Now – we will be covering some of the panels and speakers here. Up first: our panel on Public Health Education.
By Claire Vernon, PhD Candidate at NU
The Global Health Symposium at Northwestern University (NU) brought together established and student minds from many disciplines with stakes in public health: law, business, education, medicine, economics, and social services. In a forum on Public Health Education, panelists underscored that the needs of one’s audience must be central to one’s message if health education interventions are to be successful.
Martin Edlund, CEO of Malaria No More, shared an initiative to reduce malaria in Cameroon. While the campaign is multi-faceted, one component of community education is to send daily text messages to Cameroonian families reminding them of the importance of using bed-nets. By aligning text message arrival with dusk, the bed-net reminder was delivered during the most useful time of day for Cameroonians to apply the knowledge to their daily routine. This educational campaign formulated a message to be both easy to receive and seamless to implement. Learn more about Malaria No More’s programs at https://www.malarianomore.org/.
Dr. Leslie Cordes, a pediatrician at NU, presented a community campaign that reduced neonatal mortality in Haiti through improved umbilical cord care. Importantly, efficacy is only one component of successful health interventions; an equally important component is therapy acceptance. Acknowledging the community’s neonatal care priorities, health workers provided mothers with both chlorhexidine antiseptic for the cord and clean covering cloths to wrap the child’s belly. This approach ensured that new cord care recommendations were consistent with community expectations of quality newborn care. Learn more about healthy newborns and chlorhexidine treatment at http://www.healthynewbornnetwork.org/page/chlorhexidine-umbilical-cord-care-hub.
Dr. S.D. Shanti, from A.T. Still University of Health Sciences in Mesa, AZ, showed that eradicating female illiteracy is central to improving physical and mental health worldwide. Literacy empowers women, improving their physical health, emotional health, financial well-being, and self-sufficiency. Literacy’s benefits extend to women’s families and communities, positioning literacy as key to reducing poverty and violence and to improving health outcomes. Eliminating women’s illiteracy will require a focused effort like those put towards more traditional public health challenges, yet Dr. Shanti observed that “we have done it with smallpox; we are nearly there with polio. Why not literacy?” Learn more about the importance of women’s literacy at http://en.unesco.org/themes/literacy-all and http://www.proliteracy.org/.
Shaneah Taylor, from the laboratory of Dr. Melissa Simon at NU, discussed the use of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) to reach diverse student populations. The Simon laboratory’s MOOC, Career911: Your Future Job in Medicine and Healthcare, provides information about the diversity of careers in healthcare, portfolio preparation strategies, and dialogue-based learning to support people planning their educations, careers, and career transitions. Career911 served a multi-national and multi-lingual student group that was predominantly under 30 and predominantly women, with about half of the students pre-degree or in a career transition. The course has exceeded MOOC benchmarks with a high active-learner rate, perhaps due to alignment of students’ needs and concerns with course objectives and content. Learn more about this course at https://www.coursera.org/course/healthcarejobs and about MOOCs at http://www.moocs.co/.