A Letter to the Editor for Advocacy

Working on a project promoting eHealth: the use of Information and Communication for Technology (ICT) for health, I realized (as I searched online newspapers) how little information there was. I decided,  therefore, to put some information out there. The opportunity came for me when local journalists uncovered a lack of security for medical records in Jamaica’s two main public hospitals in Kingston. Here, I thought, I could make a case for electronic medical records, an area in eHealth.

I decided on a letter to the editor because:

1. It would be fast.

Because a letter to the editor is a simple opinion piece, I wouldn’t have to worry about carefully validated research or including the opinions of experts (interviews). All I would have to do it write my own opinion (in half an hour) and send it to the editor.

2. It was more likely to be published. This because the letter to the editor is specifically designed for participation from the public. Also the timeliness of the issue (the fact that it was responding to a recent lead story) would help.

http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20120421/letters/letters1.html#.T5V1__XZ6P8.twitter

The letter ended up highlighted as Letter of the Day and I received 10 comments on the online story (which is great for starting a conversation on the matter). For being chosen for letter of the day I also received a prize of a book voucher, which I donated to a school.

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Want to know the best time to have kids? There’s an app for that

Family planning goes digital! The Fertility App has been developed by Barbados Fertility Centre (BFC), and is described as the first app of its kind produced by a health care provider. The app has an ovulation calculator, which is connected to the calendar. This then syncs with the user’s device to send them alerts and reminders. The user can add appointments and medications and there is a full medical glossary explaining all the medical terms associated with both male and female fertility. There is also a full description of preconception supplements and medications and their effects on the body when trying to conceive.

Veronica Montgomery, Marketing Manager at BFC said, “The app has been developed with every couple in mind who have made the life changing decision to start a family, we hope it will help couples conceive more easily and that they won’t need fertility treatment. However, the app covers everything about natural and assisted reproduction so that couple’s are aware of treatment options as well.”  The app is available through Apple’s App Store.
Would you use an app such as this? If you are a healthcare professional working with families trying to conceive, is this something you would suggest they use?

Facebook got there first. So what?

Last week, Facebook announced a new app feature that allows users to see their friends’ organ donation status.

Shorty after that, SilconeCaribe.com posted an article about Xorgan (pronounced Zor-Gan), a social mobile app meant to increase the rate of blood and organ donation worldwide; it was being developed by St. Vincent-based entrepreneur Herbert (Haz) Samuel. Because Facebook launched their apps first, Samuel has decided to “move on to plan B” and possibly forgo development of his app.

(more…)

Communications for change: How to use text messaging as an effective behavior change campaigning tool

Produced by FrontlineSMS and Text to Change – February 2012

Available online at: http://bit.ly/GFFUR0 

SMS can be an extremely effective campaigning tool, helping to drive positive social change by increasing awareness of key issues and giving people the information they need to take their well- being into their own hands. SMS is ideal for these types of campaigns in many ways: it is immediate and intimate, coming straight to a device you carry with you most of the time. It works even in places where other digital communications channels fail; and, if received at the right time, it can provide an incredibly meaningful intervention. 

SMS can also be sent to many people at once, using aggregators and other service providers

However, getting SMS campaigns right is not simple. The right content, delivered at the right time in the right context, is critical. Adding the right kind of interaction to campaigns can make them more engaging, and increase their power in encouraging positive change. 

Case Study: http://bit.ly/GFG77h –FrontlineSMS and Georgetown University’s Institute for Reproductive Health

FrontlineSMS, an open source software for sending and receiving SMS (short message service), to provide a rapid prototype of a new mHealth service.

This service — called CycleTel™ — empowers women by providing them with accessible reproductive health information through SMS. CycleTel facilitates the use of the Standard Days Method® (SDM) of family planning, which is a simple fertility awareness-based method of family planning that teaches a woman to identify her fertile days each menstrual cycle and avoid unprotected sex on these days to prevent pregnancy.

By making this fertility information accessible via SMS, CycleTel helps women take charge of their reproductive health and use an effective family planning method. 

Text to Change
Text to Change sets up interactive SMS campaigns, together with NGOs and companies, focused on improving healthcare and education, stimulating economic development and creating awareness on environmental issues. Moreover, all basic phones are able to receive SMS.
To overcome the illiteracy barriers they make use of Interactive Voice Response services (IVR) as well.

• Text to Change: www.texttochange.com

• FrontlineSMS: www.frontlinesms.com 

Assessing the mobile environment:

Factors affecting the suitability of SMS and mobile for communicating with disaster-affected communities
http://bit.ly/GNPaAS 

 KMC/2012/ehealth
Twitter http://twitter.com/eqpaho

Online Seminar: Globalization & health equity towards sustainable development

SDE Seminar Series towards Rio+20

Sustainable Development and Environmental Health – SDE – PAHO/WHO

Globalization & health equity towards sustainable development

Seventh Seminar: 21 March 2012 – PAHO/WHO Rio+20 (in English with simultaneous translation to Spanish)

Time: 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm – Eastern Standard Time (Washington DC USA)

To check local time in WDC against your time zone, see the World Clock at:

http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/meeting.html

Website PAHO/WHO Rio+20 at: http://bit.ly/oxoRdS

– Globalization is affecting social determinants of health and the health status of different population groups, within and between nations.

– Globalization creates new opportunities and risks for health and equity in health;

– How can the action on the social determinants enhance those opportunities and reduce those risks?

– Could the Rio+20 Conference strengthen opportunities and minimize the risks of globalization? How?

Towards Health-Equitable Globalisation: Rights, Regulation and Redistribution

Final Report to the Commission on Social Determinants of Health WHO –

Globalization Knowledge Network: Ronald Labonté (Chair); Ted Schrecker (Hub coordinator)

Final Report Writing Group: Ronald Labonté (Lead author); Chantal Blouin; Mickey Chopra; Kelley Lee; Corinne Packer; Mike Rowson;

Ted Schrecker ;David Woodward

Available online at: http://bit.ly/xY58AT

“….Globalization affects health and Social Determinants of Health through changes in social stratification, differential exposure or vulnerability, health system characteristics and differential consequences. It describes a number of key ‘clusters’ of pathways leading from globalization to changes in SDH ,provides an inventory of potential “interventions,” and provides a list of the specific research synthesis papers….”

See more on the Globalization and Health at: http://bit.ly/Ayqbvg

Agenda:

12:00 Introduction: Dr. Kira Fortune, Regional Advisor on Determinants of Health, PAHO/WHO

12:05 Globalization & health equity towards sustainable development: Dr. Ronald Labonté, Canada Research Chair in Globalization & Health Equity, Institute of Population Health, and Professor, Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine, at the University of Ottawa

12:30 Comments: Dr. Oscar Mujica, Regional Advisor on Social Epidemiology, PAHO/WHO

12:35 Comments: Dr. Isaac Cohen, President, INVERWAY LLC

12:40 Debate

01:00 Closing remarks

Moderator: Dr. Kira Fortune, Regional Advisor on Determinants of Health, PAHO/WHO.

How to participate:

In person:

PAHO/WHO

525 23rd ST NW

Washington DC, 20037 Room 812 – 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm Eastern Time (WDC)

Online: via Elluminate link:

– Spanish room: http://www.paho.org/virtual/SeminariosSDE

– English room http://www.paho.org/virtual/SDESeminars

SDE Seminar Series towards Rio+20

“Human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development.

They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature” – Principle 1 of the Rio…..” Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992.

The Rio Declaration of 1992 recognizes that healthy populations are central to human progress and sustainable development, and remains equally true today. However, the economic pillar has been prioritized at the expense of the social and environmental pillars of sustainable development over the last few decades, becoming itself a source of volatility and destabilization.

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, now offers an opportunity to re-examine the relationship between health and sustainable development. The proposed SDE Seminar series towards Rio+20 aim at contributing to this important debate by bringing different themes of relevance to sustainable development and health to inform all areas of the Pan American Organization about the themes under discussion in the Rio Conference, but also to inform public health stakeholders and other decision makers in the health sector, to better take part in the debate.

The SDE Seminar series will happen every Wednesday from 12 to 1pm (Washington time), from February 8 to June 13th.

All Seminars will be life-streamed, and opened for participation in person at the PAHO/WHO HQ, or via Elluminate, or via telephone line.

Some of the Seminars will be in English, others in Spanish.

For those who cannot follow the seminar alive, they will be available later at PAHO Rio+20 Toolkit at: http://bit.ly/oxoRdS

KMC/2012/SDE

Twitter http://twitter.com/eqpaho