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Jamaica turns to reggae to stop Zika

When you’re Jamaica’s Ministry of Health and you want to get the message out about the Zika virus what do you do? You turn to reggae music. In ‘We Nuh Want Zik V’, one of the most catchy Zika PSAs available, obstetrician and gynecologist Michael Abrahams, energetically encourages people on how to keep dangerous mosquitoes away from their home.

 

The video has been viewed almost 9,000 times on YouTube. Check it out and share you thoughts.

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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.

Jamaican born UN Representative in the Eastern Caribbean Moves on to South East Asia

PRESS RELEASE

Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator, Barbados and OECS

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon has appointed Ms. Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, a national of Jamaica, as the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations System’s operational activities for development in Malaysia, effective July 1, 2013.  Ms. Gyles-McDonnough also will serve as Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme in Malaysia, with additional responsibility for the Republic of Singapore and Brunei Darussalam, and will have overall responsibility and team leadership for the coordination of UN development activities in these three countries. 

Ms. Gyles-McDonnough leaves Barbados on 29th June after a successful five-year tenure as UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative for Barbados and the OECS. During her tenure, she significantly raised the visibility of the development challenges facing small island developing states and mobilized other development partners to work together with the UN to support Barbados and OECS member states to address the impacts of climate change; make the transition to more sustainable energy future; strengthen capabilities to assess and manage disaster risks and impacts; and improve citizen’s security, well-being and life chances, among other key development areas.   

Prior to her posting in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Ms. Gyles-McDonnough was Programme Adviser in the Executive Office of UNDP, and Regional Adviser in Jamaica.  She has also served in the United Nations as Coordinator for the Grenada Recovery Programme following Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and Chief — UNDP Caribbean Sub-Regional Resource Facility in Trinidad and Tobago which she was instrumental in establishing in 1999. Before joining UNDP, Ms. Gyles-McDonnough worked with the Organisation of American States (OAS) in Washington D.C. as Member of Cabinet and Adviser to the Secretary-General. She was Legal Adviser/Alternate Representative for the Embassy of Jamaica and Permanent Mission of Jamaica to the OAS, and also practised with Winthrop Stimson Putnam and Roberts as an Attorney specializing in international trade. Ms. Gyles-McDonnough began her career in 1990 in Zimbabwe as a Law Clerk for Harare Legal Projects Centre.

Ms. Gyles-McDonnough holds an M.A. in Public Administration from Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government, USA, a Juris Doctor (with honours in International and Foreign Law) from Columbia University School of Law, USA, and an A.B. in Economics with a minor in French from Bryn Mawr College, USA.

She will move on to the South East Asia region, initially with her two children, Sydney (age 11) and Liam (age 7).  Ms. Gyles-McDonnough is married to Ambassador Lorne McDonnough, CEO of the CARICOM Development Fund.

UTech (Jamaica) public health conference, June 7-10

The University of Technology (UTech) School of Public Health and Health Technology (SPHHT) will host it’s Second International Public Health Conference from June 7-10 under the theme ‘Public Health Challenges – Its impact on Jamaica, the Caribbean and the World – Are we prepared?’

This conference mounted by the SPHHT will examine current challenges being faced within Jamaica’s public health system that is charged with protecting and promoting the health and well-being of the public. Participants will be drawn from the public-health sector in Jamaica, the medical and academic fraternities, the public sector, private corporations and the general public. Invitations have also been issued to key persons in the public-health system in the Caribbean to attend and contribute to the discourse. It is anticipated that there will be some 200 participants from Jamaica and the Caribbean at the event.

The conference will open on Thursday, June 7, at 6 p.m. with a public lecture presented by Professor Sir George Alleyne, Chancellor of the University of the West Indies who will speak on the topic: ‘Public Health Challenges and Primary Health Care’. The conference will be officially opened by Minister of Health Dr Fenton Ferguson on Friday, June 8, at 9 a.m and will be held at the Wyndham hotel in St. Andrew, Jamaica.

Source: Jamaica Gleaner

 

Healthy Caribbean 2012: Rallying for action on NCDs (Part 1)

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On May 28 and 29 2012 I had the opportunity to attend the Healthy Caribbean Coalition‘s (HCC) Non Communicable Disease (NCD) PreventionImage and Strategic planning workshop for civil society organizations, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston Jamaica. About 13 Caribbean territories were present at the workshop, with over 100 representatives from Ministries of Health, various non governmental societies (e.g. diabetes and cancer associations), the private sector, international and regional agencies and academia.

ImageOf special note in attendance was Jamaican Minister of Education, the Honourable Ronald Thwaites who set the tone of the event early, declaring his Ministry’s full commitment to partner with the HCC. He spoke about the “bulla and bag juice’ culture in school feeding in Jamaica and it probable impacts on a child’s poor educational and health outcomes. He stated his intention to address these and other issues this and requested support from the Coalition for the development of the education curriculum which will include messages and activities to persuade students about the advantages of healthy living.

Sir George Alleyne, who, by the end of the workshop was declared Patron of the HCC, advocated for “the NCD approach” which is a “determined, sustained effort to address NCDs  subsuming sectoral and organizational hubris to a united collective focus on the task of prevention and control of NCDs in the Caribbean”.

Communications lessons coming from the Healthy Caribbean Coalition campaign:

The campaign of the HCC has been not only one the the best branded health campaigns of the region, but also innovative and participative.

The “Get the Message” campaign was a mobile phone text message campaign started by the Healthy Caribbean Coalition to raise awareness about NCDs and the UN High-level Meeting. Working with only volunteers, the campaign set out to get 1 million text messages in support for NCDs from people in 17 Caribbean countries. People simply had to text “yes” to a specific number and by partnering with mobile phone providers, there was no cost involved. The campaign ran television and radio PSAs, worked with local radio stations and concert venues, leveraged Facebook and Twitter, and staged two all day text-a-thons. Although the goal was to reach 1 million text messages, in reality, nothing like this has been done before. After five months, they have received over 460,000 text messages.Considered a success, the organizers offer key takeaway points for people wishing to engage in similar efforts:
1.  Any campaign should educate their audience in addition to asking them to engage – people cannot only ask their audience to “text, text, text” but instead ask them after teaching them about the issue.
2.  Also the campaign tailored its messaging to the individual needs of the 17 countries involved. Because a campaign like this is likely to involve NGOs, volunteers, and several for-profit companies, key stakeholders should be identified early on and their roles established. Although new, raising awareness about NCDs through the Get the Message campaign proved successful and hopefully reproducible in other parts of the world.

[adapted from Procor website)

In Part 2 of this post I will explore some topics relevant to health communications in the region which came out  of this meeting.