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?

Caribbean literature for health communication lessons?

In three months, I’ll begin my pursuing my doctorate in Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. I’ve decided to blog about my experiences in the program, which promises to be intense but rewarding.

Before classes can begin; however, I have to get through the summer. And, that means summer reading. Many people have a summer reading list, which might include catching up best sellers from the past year or great novels published decades ago. For mine, I’ve decided to focus on Caribbean authors, beginning with Elizabeth Nunez, having read having read a few of her novels many years ago.

I picked up Boundaries (2011) at my local library about a month ago. It’s a quick and easy read that tells the story of a 40-year-old Caribbean-American woman who left her home in Trinidad to study and then work in the United States. Well-educated Anna tries to navigate the publishing industry, balancing her duties as a book editor and her commitment to her aging parents. In the middle of reading Boundaries, I realized that the book is actually a sequel to Anna in-between, Nunez’s 2010 novel.

So, what does this have to do with health communication?

Anna’s mother, Beatrice, is suffering from breast cancer, one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality among Caribbean women.

Beatrice first attempts to pray the lumps away. She wakes up in the middle of the night to pray, hoping that the lump will get smaller. She also wakes up to address the lump because it is beginning to bleed out.

It’s about family communication of medical history; the conversations we have with our families about health and illness. Anna’s mother’s mother died of breast cancer. Anna’s mother had breast cancer. Anna knows she is at higher risk. Despite this, Beatrice husband refuses to bring up the topic unless his wife gives him the okay. She hasn’t. In their house, privacy is respected and takes precedence, even in times of illness.

It is also about the discussions we have with our doctors. Beatrice will not allow the ‘unofficial’ family doctor to examine her, to see her nudity. This is too private. Pak, the family physician, recommends she see an oncologist. Beatrice reluctantly agrees. But the strength she shown up to the point of the appointment date is shattered. She is scared. She fears she will die like her mother.

It is also about the faith we have in our health systems. What does it mean to be sick in the Caribbean? What does it mean to be sick on Trinidad? Anna’s mother has faith in the island doctors. She wants to see them. She does chemotherapy on Trinidad. At the urging of Anna, Beatrice travels to New Jersey for her mastectomy, where she is cared for not only by her daughter but also by the son of a family friend, an oncologist why performs the surgery. After surgery, she immediately returns to Trinidad and the care of her local cancer doctor.

Image courtesy of Repeating Islands.

The Epidemic and the Response: Caribbean Response to HIV Amidst Natural Disasters by Dr. Jean William Pape at 2011 Caribbean HIV Conference

The organizers of the 2011 Caribbean HIV Conference have been uploading videos of the sessions on their Youtube page and I’ll be sharing a few more videos. In this one, Dr. Jean William Pape, Founder and Director of GHESKIO in Haiti discusses the organization’s response to the recent earthquake and subsequent cholera outbreak. Although he does not mention explicitly the role of crisis communication within disaster response, you can clearly see the importance of having a strategic crisis communication plan. By about the 7:00 minute mark, he talks about GHESKIO’s response and outlines how they went about communicating with their patients, including setting up 24-hour phone lines and delivering calling cards, having a ‘correspondent’ serve as a link between the organization and patients, and through radio messages.