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Inspiration is Infectious: Engaging with the Social Impact Community at Global Events

The Digital Medic team hits the road, attending CUGH 2023 in Washington, D.C., the Skoll World Forum in Oxford, and IMNHC in Cape Town.
Jamie Johnston, Evaluation Director at Digital Medic, at CUGH 2023 in Washington, D.C.

Being part of the global health community involves connection and idea-sharing across borders, oceans, languages, and cultures. 

When possible, we join events that serve as platforms for learning and engagement with impact-focused peers and organizations from all over the world.

In April, Digital Medic Evaluation Director Jamie Johnston traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Consortium of Universities for Global Health’s annual conference, CUGH 2023. She presented three posters and accepted an award on behalf of Digital Medic from the CUGH-Pulitzer Center Annual Global Health Video Competition.

Meanwhile, Managing Director Aarti Porwal represented our team at the Skoll World Forum, which brought together a diverse group of leaders working on solutions to a variety of global challenges.

Following these events, members of our team attended the first biennial International Maternal Newborn Health Conference (IMNHC), organized by AlignMNH and held in Cape Town. At IMNHC 2023, Research Analyst Nophiwe Job presented an oral abstract in a session called ‘Better Breastfeeding Counseling: Where Do We Start?’. The abstract focused on our experience using story-based videos for breastfeeding education in South Africa’s Western Cape.

CUGH 2023: Global Health at a Crossroads

We were proud to accept an honorable mention for our video ‘Expanding Health Education, Together’ in the CUGH-Pulitzer Center Annual Global Health Video Competition

Released in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, this video sheds light on the need for reliable access to health information across the globe and how Digital Medic is working toward this vision. The video was featured at the conference alongside five other winning videos.

Our winning video

The conference’s poster session provided a venue to discuss findings, answer questions, and exchange insights with other global health researchers. Jamie presented three posters about recent research collaborations exploring the effectiveness of digital health education interventions in different contexts.

1. Nothing For Us Without Us: Supporting Community Health Workers through a Community-Based Participatory Research Design to Develop a Digital Advocacy Training

We collaborated with the Community Health Impact Coalition (CHIC) to develop a digital advocacy training course for community health workers (CHWs) using a community-based participatory research approach. The findings suggest that efforts to engage CHWs in advocacy must overcome systemic barriers and internalized norms that deter CHWs from reaching their full potential as advocates.

2. Combating COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation through a Culturally and Linguistically Tailored Health Education Campaign on Social Media in Indigenous Communities in the Central Highlands of Guatemala

With Wuqu’ Kawoq – Maya Health Alliance, we implemented a multi-part study exploring vaccine perceptions among Indigenous Maya populations in Guatemala. Our team developed a series of localized vaccine education videos in Spanish, K’iche, and Kaqchikel. We disseminated the videos via social media and conducted surveys to understand their effectiveness on improving vaccine acceptance and uptake. Overall, findings indicate that vaccine education should be locally, culturally, and linguistically relevant to target communities. Learn more about the project

3. Evaluating the Impact of a WhatsApp-Based Education Intervention for New Mothers on Postnatal Knowledge and Care: Evidence from Four States in India

We collaborated with Noora Health to investigate the impact of delivering postnatal health education messages via WhatsApp on new mothers’ knowledge and behaviors. Findings suggest that the intervention improved maternal knowledge and postpartum care and that providing postnatal health education via established messaging platforms can effectively promote healthy postpartum practices.

Skoll World Forum: 20 Years of Impact

While Jamie represented Digital Medic at CUGH, Aarti attended the 20th Annual Skoll World Forum in Oxford, England. At the forum, Aarti spent time building connections and sharing ideas with organizations new to us about issues from health equity to climate change. 

She also caught up with some of our collaborators, like the Community Health Impact Coalition and the Nama Wellness Community Centre, which held an in-person CHW advocacy training last year in Uganda using materials from our advocacy course.

Digital Medic Managing Director Aarti Porwal with Pauline Picho Keronyai, Executive Director of Nama Wellness Community Centre

“A running theme throughout the forum was about how the spread of misinformation is a threat to all the issues we care about. In a world where lies spread six times faster than facts, I believe [we] must work even harder to spread those facts. We learned at the forum that the one thing that spreads as fast as anger is inspiration.”

- Aarti Porwal, managing director at Digital Medic

Our team left these recent events feeling inspired to continue working with our network of collaborators toward a healthier and more equitable world–one where everyone can access the tools and support they need to make informed decisions for themselves, their loved ones, and their communities.

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