Global Health Ideas

Finding global health solutions through innovation and technology

Archive for the ‘Cause marketing’ Category

Graphic Stats: How to (Mis)Tell a Story

How one communicates a message is critical to what you are trying to accomplish. It amazes me how little upfront investment some organizations/campaigns put into this kind of thing. This recently came to mind when I saw the work of Toby Ng, who has “used information graphics to re-tell the story in another creative way” with the commonly used theme – if the world was 100 people then…Some examples below:
badstatsq1
HT (The Atlantic)

Cautionary Note and Counterpoint
The comment thread at Flowing Data suggests an alternate critical argument about using this  technique  because it is not a “serious attempt to convey information” and it is easy to distort data when you manipulate in such a manner. I am not a graphic design expert and I haven’t read Tufte but this is certainly a fundamental principle (don’t distort the data). Given this warning, this specific style is attractive and can be useful depending on the audience and the goals you have. There is a lot more that can be said on this theme and it would be great to have global health folks brainstorming different ways of communicating messages beyond doom and gloom.

For some inspiration and ideas check out sites like Flowing Data and Jaspal’s previously related post on “Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes“. For audio visual storytelling the talk by Hans Rosling at TED 2006 is a global health classic that pushes us to be more creative story tellers. This has to be one of the best global health videos I have ever seen (which we posted 2 years ago):

Written by Aman

April 21, 2009 at 9:37 pm

Art for Global Health

art_condom-dressesI recently discovered the UCLA Art|Global Health Center, the mission of which is to “unleash the transformative power of the arts to advance global health“. The arts have the ability to capture issues and tell a story in a way that can make a profound impact on our (social) consciousness and is not something we talk about enough as a tool. One of the more famous examples of this is the AIDS quilt which was conceived of in 1985 by an AIDS activist in memory of Harvey Milk. That quilt has had over 14 million visitors and is the largest community arts project in the world.

The UCLA center has some ongoing projects and last year opened “Make Art | Stop AIDS” that featured traditional art as well as things like condom dresses. Make Art/Stop AIDS “is organized around a series of seven interconnected and at times overlapping concerns expressed in the form of open-ended questions, some of which include direct art historical references to the epidemic: What is AIDS?; Who lives, who dies?; Condoms: what’s the issue?; Is it safe to touch?; When is the last time you cried?; What good does a red ribbon do?; Are you angry enough to do something about AIDS?; and, finally, Art is not enough. Now it’s in your hands.”

Creative art projects have the ability to move the human mind unlike the constant barrage of issues, numbers and headlines that desensitize us over time. If you have seen or heard of any interesting arts based global health projects let us know.

More Sources
Adriana Bertinin’s condom dresses

Addressing HIV/AIDS-Related Grief and Healing Through Art

History of the AIDS Memorial Quilt

Condom fashion show, China

Written by Aman

April 13, 2009 at 9:49 pm

Why bad presentations happen to good causes

Cross-posted from Design Research for Global Health.

Giving talks is not one of my strong suits, but it seems to be a part of the job requirement.  Earlier this month, I had the opportunity (even though I’m no good, I do consider it an opportunity), to give a couple talks, one to the Interdisciplinary MPH Program at Berkeley and one to a group of undergraduate design students, also at Berkeley.  Despite the difference in focus, age, and experience of the two groups, the topic was roughly the same: How do we effectively use design thinking as an approach in public health?

The first session was so-so, and I suspect that the few people who were excited about it were probably excited in spite of the talk.  It started well, but about halfway through, something began to feel very wrong and that feeling didn’t go away until some time later that evening.  Afterwards, I received direct feedback from the instructor and from the students in the form of an evaluation.  I recommend this if it is ever presented as an option.  Like any “accident”, this one was a “confluence of factors”: lack of clarity and specificity, allowing the discussion to get sidetracked, poor posture, and a tone that conveyed a lack of excitement for the topic.

It’s one thing to get feedback like this, another to act on it.

top10causesofdeath-blogThe second session went much better, gauging by the student feedback, the comments from the instructor, and my own observations.  This in spite of a larger group (60 vs. 20) that would be harder to motivate (undergraduates with midterms vs. professionals working on applied problems in public health).  I chalk it all up to preparation and planning.  Certainly there are people that are capable of doing a great job without preparation – I just don’t think I’m one of those people.

Most of that preparation by the way was not on slides.  I did use slides, but only had five for an hour session and that still proved to be too many.  Most of the time that I spent on slides, I spent developing a single custom visual to convey precisely the information that was relevant to the students during this session (see image).  The rest of the preparation was spent understanding the audience needs by speaking to those running the class; developing a detailed plan for the hour, focusing on how to make the session a highly interactive learning experience; designing quality handouts to support the interactive exercise; and doing my necessary homework.  For this last one, I spent 20 minutes on the phone with a surgeon friend, since the session was built around a case study discussing surgical complications and design.

Three resources I found really useful:

  1. Why Bad Presentations Happen to Good Causes, Andy Goodman, 2006. This commissioned report was developed to help NGOs with their presentations, but I think there is value here for anyone whose work involves presentations. It is evidence-based and provides practical guidance on session design, delivery, slides (PowerPoint), and logistics.  Most importantly, it is available as a free download. I was fortunate enough to pick up a used copy of the print edition for US$9 at my local bookstore, which was worth the investment for me because of the design of the physical book.  It’s out-of-print now and it looks like the online used copies are quite expensive – at least 3x what I paid – so I recommend the PDF.
  2. Envisioning Information, Edward Tufte, 1990. I read this when I was writing my dissertation. Folks in design all know about Tufte, but I still recommend a periodic refresher.  This is the sort of book that will stay on my shelf.  Also potentially useful is The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. For those working in global health, don’t forget how important the display of information can be: (a) Bill Gates and the NYTimes, (b) Hans Rosling at TED.
  3. Software for creating quality graphics.  The drawing tools built into typical office applications, though they have improved in recent years, are still limited in their capability and flexibility, especially if you’re looking at #2 above.  In the past 10 days, three people in my socio-professional network have solicited advice on such standalone tools, OmniGraffle (for Mac) and Visio (Windows): a graphic designer in New York, an energy research scientist in California, and a healthcare researcher in DC.  Both are great options.  I use OmniGraffle these days, though I used to use Visio a few years back.  If cost is an issue, there are open-source alternatives available, though I’m not at all familiar with them (e.g., the Pencil plug-in for Firefox).

Written by Jaspal

March 26, 2009 at 10:42 am

Next Trends: Generosity in Tough Times?

For Feb 2009 TrendWatching.Com focuses on “generation G” – the giving, generous generation that they think is baked in due to the ubiquitous development of online culture. I don’t agree with everything they have spotted, but it’s a really interesting piece worth checking out:

GENERATION G | Captures the growing importance of ‘generosity’ as a leading societal and business mindset. As consumers are disgusted with greed and its current dire consequences for the economy—and while that same upheaval has them longing more than ever for institutions that care—the need for more generosity beautifully coincides with the ongoing (and pre-recession) emergence of an online-fueled culture of individuals who share, give, engage, create and collaborate in large numbers.”

In fact, for many, sharing a passion and receiving recognition have replaced ‘taking’ as the new status symbol. Businesses should follow this societal/behavioral shift, however much it may oppose their decades-old devotion to me, myself and I.”

Here is the outline of the piece:

1. Recession and consumer disgust
2. Longing for institutions that care
3. For individuals, giving is already the new taking and sharing is the new giving

8 Ways for corporations to join Generation G: co-donate, eco-generosity, free love… read the rest here.

Additional Commentary:

  • Generation G: Wired to Care, Wired to Share , Link
  • Goodness And Happiness – Why Generosity Is The Future Of Marketing Strategy, Link
  • Generations Generosity, Link

Written by Aman

February 17, 2009 at 10:52 pm

Can you spare 50 Cents for Global Health?

Want to know what 50 cents can buy? Watch the video in full, read the press release below (announcement to be made today at Davos) and check out http://www.just50cents.org/:


I will link to the full press release when it’s up, in the meantime here is the intro:

Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases Receives $34 Million Gates Foundation Investment to Scale up Prevention and Treatment Efforts

New “End the Neglect 2020” Campaign Aims to Greatly Reduce the Burden of NTDs Davos, Switzerland, January 30, 2009 –

“The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases today announced that it has received $34 million through a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the Sabin Vaccine Institute to step up the global effort to prevent and treat neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). These debilitating and sometimes deadly diseases affect 1.4 billion people worldwide who live on less than $1.25 a day. With the new grant, the Global Network is launching a campaign to catalyze additional funding and will establish a global alliance to scale up NTD treatment and prevention efforts. “

Controlling NTDs is considered a “best buy” in public health because of the availability of extremely low-cost interventions and the resulting high return on investment. For approximately 50 cents per person per year, the seven most common NTDs – which together represent 90% of the global NTD burden – can be effectively treated.

Written by Aman

January 29, 2009 at 11:09 pm

Public Health Needs a Rockstar: Paging Dr. Gupta for Surgeon General

As you may have heard by now, Obama might be seriously considering Sanjay Gupta of CNN to be the US Surgeon General. Two good friends had an initially negative reaction to this – “but he is just another TV anchor!”. Well Gupta is much more than that. In addition to his proflic duties as a medical correspondent for CNN where has done in-depth assignments on Iraq and Katrina, he practices surgery on a weekly basis, is the associate chief of neurosurgery at a major university, has traveled the country and the world witnessing first hand major health issues giving him a global sensibility. Also along with his government experience ( as a White House fellow), he knows how to reach mass audiences and will be a media savvy.  Clearly he can handle high pressure situations and his celebrity is a huge plus (how many people can remember the name of the last or current surgeon general or know of any significant issues they have tackled?).

For better or worse we are already far down the path of celebrity endorsed causes (what impact this has, I really don’t know, but it certainly commands some attention in a world with lots of noise and information overload). We have Bono, Bill Gates, and Bill Clinton – all rockstars for global health. Even NextBillion is advocating for rockstars in public health, which I do agree with. Sanjay Gupta is extremely smart and talented and can be a celebrity for public health on a national scale. And actually much more than a rockstar, public health in this country and globally needs an ambassador, a champion and an activist. This pick is good for both domestic and global health, and the two have never been so intertwined (not just with the migration of infectious diseases across borders but also with the explosion in chronic disease (and see here Jan 2009)  in developing countries and issues like brain drain). You would have someone who has appeal beyond the experts and policy wonks, he has strong credibility with the American public. As such, this is a great media strategy by the Obama team – they have found someone who is well known, a media professional (and as some criticize – a propaganda machine), and can deliver complex health policy messages.

As with any candidate there are drawbacks and deficiencies, with Gupta, these will all come out in due time. I understand that some in public health circles and others will consider this pick to be more style than substance, but my main point is that is time for us to think creatively beyond our traditional notions and perhaps take a risk with someone who doesn’t have a strong public health background, but who has the potential to have a major positive impact.  Gupta is someone who can link both local and global health causes together and that is rare and signficant skill. The envirionmental movement over the last decade has made tremendous strides in melting the division and lines between local and global into something that can be grasped at all levels and into something where people understand the connection. Granted health is a very different animal, but as a community and movement we are light years behind the environmental folks – perhaps Gupta helps to push this in another way.

Other sources:

- Krugman on the Trouble with Sanjay Gupta, link
- See Abel and Jake over at Science Blogs on their differing views
- WSJ health blog on Gupta, link
- Read the comments over at Daily Kos, link
- Huff Post on Gupta, link
- Questions about Gupta at KevinMD, link

Written by Aman

January 6, 2009 at 11:43 pm

Maternova: Life Changing Technology for Women and Children

Cat Laine over at AIDG alerted me to Maternova…After a little bit of effort I think I finally figured out what they are up to, and the potential is exciting. From what I can tell, Maternova is acting as a clearinghouse and agent to spur the production of low cost life changing technologies in the area of maternal and child health. They are building a portfolio of innovative projects and products. What they are doing is critical for many reasons, one is that they are filling a major gap by coordinating and organizing in one particular area. There are many individuals and groups working globally on similar issues, however attempting to bring some of these ideas together under one umbrella is much more powerful than those projects standing alone.

Here is an introduction to 2 of their several products:

“Embrace is a $25 incubator designed to save premature and low birth weight babies. The product’s mission is to help the 20 million vulnerable babies born every year around the world, who can’t access traditional incubators that cost up to $20,000.  It is not yet on the market.”

mat_embrace

“Study findings show the use of a neoprene suit can save the lives of women suffering from obstetrical hemorrhaging due to childbirth. Hemorrhaging accounts for about 30 percent of the more than 500,000 maternal deaths worldwide each year due to childbirth…”
mat_lifewrap3

I read on the Maternova website that they are thinking about linking up with mothers in the US as one funding stream. This seems like a great idea, especially if it is to get high volume low cost donations (e.g. <$10-$20). Part of the sales pitch could include an appeal to our global community – today we truly live in a global community and are inextricably linked to one another. Our fates are intertwined like never before. I could see making a pitch like this to appeal to new grandparents, parents, uncles and aunts to make donations in the name of their newborns. I’ll follow up with more information on Maternova…

Written by Aman

November 16, 2008 at 9:11 pm

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