The Toolkit: Adaptable, credible, and free
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the public health sector to distill complex information into clear, actionable guidance. Rampant misinformation and politicization of safety measures have exacerbated issues like vaccine hesitancy and anti-masking, affecting vulnerable communities worldwide. Meanwhile, scientific understanding of the virus continues to evolve as new data and variants arise.
Creating and communicating timely, evidence-based educational content that can be deployed rapidly and at scale is more important than ever. With this in mind, Digital Medic developed an open access COVID-19 Toolkit in 2020. The Toolkit contains a series of educational videos and infographics about the virus and how to prevent transmission. All content is available publicly on YouTube and the Digital Medic asset library.
The videos and graphics in the Toolkit were designed to be easily translatable, customizable, and mobile-friendly. Community health organizations, governments, and others looking to spread credible health information can freely adapt and use the Toolkit in their specific contexts.
Spotlight on Southeast Asia
In late 2021, we translated four videos from the Toolkit into five Southeast Asian languages: Indonesian, Filipino, Malay, Thai, and Vietnamese (click each language to see the translated videos). The videos cover the following key topics related to COVID-19 prevention and understanding:
- Safety Tips for Wearing a Mask
- How COVID-19 Makes Breathing Difficult
- How the Coronavirus Enters the Body and the Severity of Symptoms it Causes
- Wash Your Hands to Protect Yourself and Others
The adapted videos were published on YouTube and circulated widely in December 2021, receiving over four million views in one month. This broad reach demonstrates that adaptable resources can be quickly and cost-effectively scaled to meet the global demand for high-quality health education.
Understanding local contexts
Southeast Asia was one of the earliest regions affected by the pandemic. In fact, the first recorded COVID-19 case outside of China was reported in Thailand in January 2020, and the first death outside of China was reported in the Philippines in February 2020. As in many parts of the world, governments in the region sprung into action to contain the virus using measures such as lockdowns and travel restrictions. Despite the initial effectiveness of these tactics, the area was hit hard by the Delta variant which became dominant in 2021.
Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam are some of the most populated countries in the region and accordingly have the highest case numbers. As a whole, Southeast Asian countries have faced a host of challenges informing citizens about COVID-19 and personal safety measures such as vaccination. Despite a trend toward urbanization, geography presents an obstacle in countries where significant portions of the population are spread across islands and rural areas with limited infrastructure. Accessible digital health education can benefit these hard-to-reach communities.
The power of “glocalization”
We employed a “glocalized” approach when designing this COVID-19 Toolkit. Glocalization involves maintaining both broad appeal and local relevancy. A recent study on the effectiveness of glocalized, animated video-based health education found that audiences “may be willing to accept simplified visuals, designed for broad cross-cultural acceptability, especially if the content is localized in other ways, such as through the use of locally resonating narratives and voiceovers. Diverse, inclusive portrayals of age, gender roles and family structure were preferred.”
In creating the Toolkit, we prioritized diverse representation, clear messaging, and universal visuals, text and voiceover while avoiding specific cultural undertones. This approach allows for efficient and cost-effective translation and scaling of videos. The translated videos quickly reached a large audience, demonstrating the value of glocalized content.
At Digital Medic, we work to reach communities around the world with critical health information when and where it is needed. Into the next year and beyond, we will continue to create engaging educational content that can have widespread impact.