Tag Archives: Another Option

We are pleased to announce our affiliations with Ljubica Latinovic and Gisele McAuliffe!

Ljubica Latinovic, Founding Partner and Managing Director of LYAHealth

Ljubica Latinovic, Founding Partner and Managing Director of LYAHealth

Dr. Ljubica Latinovic (@LYAHealth) is a Founding Partner of LYAHealth, a woman-owned business that specializes in communication strategies and solutions to health issues. LYAHealth also provides crisis and emergency communication management in public health, digital media, message development, and media relations.

Gisele McAuliffe, President of Advocacy Communications International, Inc. and Bigger Impact

Gisele McAuliffe, President of Advocacy Communications International, Inc. and Bigger Impact

Gisele McAuliffe (@curiousadvocate) is an international communications and advocacy consultant who presides over Advocacy Communications International, Inc. and Bigger Impact. With more than 20 years of communications experience, McAuliffe collaborates with diverse teams to plan, implement and evaluate strategic outreach efforts.

We are excited for our future work with Ljubica and Gisele!

One of the wonderful initiatives arising from this year’s International Women’s Day was the #heforshe campaign, a video campaign talking about why equality, education and safety for women are critical to global prosperity as well as to women’s own rights.

It features notable international figures and actors like Matt Damon, saying things like, ““If you want to solve some of these huge kinds of bigger problems of extreme poverty, you have to engage women. They’re the ones who’ll get it done.”

Forbes.com published a post from an Ashoka representative, Let’s Hear It For The Men, highlighting great efforts other men have put forth towards a more equable world for the other half of the sky.  Examples:  Khalid Alkhudair started Glowork, a job-finding service in Saudi Arabia, to connect women with companies seeking to hire.  Anshu Gupta started a program that recycles old clothing into sanitary napkins, meeting an often overlooked need.

On other fronts, some men felt compelled to show solidarity with women in other out-of-the-box ways.  The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes movement is local marches to raise awareness of violence against women.  These fellows in Toronto joined, but only one fellow correctly realized that one should never wear socks with a peep-toe: 

Photo: Globe and Mail

Photo: Globe and Mail

While Lebanese men who sashayed about in heels at Le Mall Dbayeh in Beirut were stylishly spot-on.

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Gentlemen, we applaud your efforts. But as women who rush around quite a bit every day running our own business in international development — working hard for organizations like Girl Rising to change attitudes and behavior on girls’ education – mingling with family and friends, minding our health and personal growth – we would never be seen in heels as high as these!

“Big data is companies knowing things about our behavior almost before we’re aware of them ourselves.”

Kai Ryssdal, American Public Media, Marketplace

When did the current rush to turn data into pictures begin?

Perhaps it was when Hans Rosling wowed the world from the TED stage in 2006 with his dramatic data visualizations of global development myths. Data visualization has been around for millennia, of course, and Ren Descartes is credited for inventing the notion of graphing data in the 17th century.  Bar and pie charts followed in the late-18th/early 19th centuries, thanks in large part to the hard work of William Playfair, a Scottish social scientist, according to Stephen Few, author of “Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data.”

As Few details in his excellent white paper on data visualization’s past, present and future, the field exploded in the 1980s thanks to Edward Tufte’s seminal work, “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information” in 1983, and Apple’s debut of its personal computer.  Suddenly, everyman could become a wizard of telling data stories through pictures.

Now, of course, there’s an app for that, and everyman/woman can make a graphic and via social media share it with an audience of potentially millions in seconds.  Twitter and Instagram are alive with maps, graphs and doodles. The quality of our data imagery varies greatly, but strong pictures are emerging, and we’ve never had better opportunities to literally have a picture of our collective behaviors.

The results are fascinating: The Chinese search engine Baidu heat mapped the migration pattern of millions of Chinese as they trooped home to celebrate the New Year in January.

 

Graphic: Baidu

Graphic: Baidu

And Mediabistro’s “A Day in the Life of the Internet” chronicled how billions of people spend their time each and every day. We could go on.  

On a more serious note, Dan Munroe pointed out in Forbes.com recently, seeing outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases on a map – this one, a world map from the Council on Foreign Relations —  is brightly colored yet hard-hitting proof of the damage of the behavior of refusing vaccines.

Graphic: Council on Foreign Relations

Graphic: Council on Foreign Relations

 

Mobile phone data in particular may be priceless information for development, as a technology pervasive in developing markets.  One mobile carrier analysis showed where folks needed buses in Abidjan, leading to a rework of the city’s transport system. Another mHealth data analysis showed how human travel leads to the spread of malaria.

What does this mean for those of us involved in measuring and changing behaviors? For one, graphic data leads to greater awareness, particularly as information flows across social and mobile media.  We like shiny, pretty things.  And what makes good data visualizations? Some schools, including Harvard and MIT, are helping us move toward a more scientific understanding of what makes visualized data memorable, and the Rhode Island School of Design is working on how best to put across complex scientific concepts.

And as we become more sophisticated in creating good graphics, with an evidence-based understanding of what truly imparts information, we’ll be that much better in conveying ideas in ways that transcend cultural and even language barriers – and changing behavior on a visible, grand scale.

How well are education and health services performing in African countries, based on results for their own people?

Another Option is pleased to announce that we’ve once again been engaged by the World Bank to help communicate the results of the Service Delivery Indicators (SDI) initiative, which provides timely, accurate and rigorous data on public spending outcomes in African countries.

While access to providers has increased, the quality of services as yet remains uneven, and the end result of transactions, including how they relate to expenditures, is tough to measure.

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Coordinated by the World Bank and in partnership with in partnership with the African Economic Research Consortium and the African Development Bank, the Indicators gather actionable data on the quality of service delivery in primary schools and at frontline health facilities across countries and over time. The coalition launched in Kenya in 2013 and recently released results of its survey in Uganda, which were welcomed and discussed by leadership and the public.

Funders include World Bank, DFID, USAID, the Hewlett Foundation, and the Brookings Institution.

Another Option designed and populated the SDI web site; developed talking points and key messages for launch events; and developed materials and visuals for launches. In this new phase, we’ll be helping SDI further develop its web site, including blogs; launch and expand its social media presence; and advance its digital communication, including designing and producing a web dashboard and application.

We’ll also be covering milestone events for SDI:  The 10th anniversary of the Indicators effort, Steering Committee meeting and the release of survey results from Nigeria in mid-March.

Whenever the Mega Millions jackpot hits obscenely high numbers, like it did last week, I start making a list of what I would buy and where I would make contributions or investments if I won. One place would be in working to control or minimize dengue fever.

It is a disease close to my heart — and lurking in the back of my mind — and I feel like its lone champion, because it is overshadowed by malaria. It’s particularly frustrating because Federal funding ignores it as well, yet could control it with a minor investment. In the great scheme of things, we aren’t talking about a lot of money.  This infectious disease could be managed and controlled, and thereby we could reduce or eliminate a critical public health issue.

Dengue is one of several infectious diseases that is so underserved that the World Health Organization lists it among its “neglected tropical diseases.”

Neglected. Wow. Strong word.

They’re called neglected because they are underserved, underfunded, and under researched — particularly when measured against the threats they pose.

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Case in point: This week, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) put out an alert:  Chikungunya, a devastating infectious disease, which had never before been seen in the Western Hemisphere, arrived in the Caribbean. The alert told travelers – more than 9 million Americans journey to the Caribbean every year – what to do to prevent becoming infected.  And they would be wise to take precautions: An infection typically causes severe symptoms including headache, joint pain and fever.

Dengue is already endemic in Latin America, and cases have been seen in California and Florida. There’s even a new dengue virus type to worry about. Experts are already postulating that Chikungunya will follow. These aren’t diseases or illnesses that are prevalent “somewhere else,” but are viruses right here in the U.S. And it will take more than individual behaviors to keep them out. Funding for research to find a prevention, to enforce border protection, and multi-lateral agreements to address and contain the sources of the disease are priorities.  Then you work on changing individual behaviors.

I didn’t win this week’s mega lottery. But humanity would win big if we worked to remove the “neglected” from the common moniker of this collection of sly diseases, and slide them to the “Controlled” or “Managed” columns instead.

PS: After drafting this blog, I was talking to one of my social marketing mavens about Neglected Tropical Disease and he said, “The first thing you do is change the name? Neglected?! No.  We need to rethink how these viruses are known.”

— Dee Bennett

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) created a terrific infographic on pandemic prevention and preparedness. I wanted to share it; we’ve tweeted it, but we need all the coverage we can get of this critical issue.  Click here for the full visual.

 

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I started working on pandemic threats in 2005 with the outbreak of H5N1 influenza virus (avian influenza) in Southeast Asia – Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. I was a communication technical advisor on a USAID-funded project managed by AED.  We were juggling treatment (while not knowing WHAT the virus really was) and prevention. Much like the early days of HIV and AIDS, the response strategy of the groups involved was first to stop internal hemorrhaging, while tracking the disease epidemiology to reveal a prevention route.

It has only been nine years – a lifetime in the cycle of a virus – and since then there has been H1N1 2009 pandemic influenza…and now we’re watching H7.

Another RWJF’s NewPublicHealth blog on pandemic awareness lists “top five things you didn’t know could spread disease” including sweaty strivers crawling through mud and various obstacle courses in races like “Tough Mudder” — and an unvaccinated child  as the top risk, which seems obvious to those of us on the ground but is not apparent to a growing number of parents.

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But while the experts work to decode and prepare a response to H7, remember to wash your hands regularly, sneeze into your inner elbow, stay home when you’re sick, and follow hospital room behavior:  Any surface may be contaminated.

Thanks to RWJF for letting us remind you that another pandemic could happen, and that individual practices can reduce those odds dramatically.

— Dee Bennett

Google Glass. Self-driving cars. Hyperloop. All examples of technology that is rapidly becoming common place in our lives.

Though these technologies are not the norm in most developing nations, technology is playing a bigger role. Let’s look at four of the fastest growing tools adopted by many of these countries.

Mobile Phones

Mobile phones are making an impact.

A 2011 study by the Kenya Medical Research Institute found that implementing a text message reminder service vastly improved the treatment of malaria at health facilities in coastal and western Kenya. Workers who received SMS reminders improved their adherence to treatment guidelines for outpatient pediatric malaria.

In some parts of rural Africa, a single mobile phone may be used by an entire village to bank, contact relatives, or check the weather. For example, though only 45% of people in Kenya reported owning a mobile phone in a 2012 Plos One survey, 85% of respondents said they had used a mobile phone—many of whom said they own a SIM card, but do not own a phone.

Similarly, 60% of Kenyans have used a mobile phone to send money, and 65% have used a mobile phone to receive money, according to GSMA.

While living and working in Brazil in 2008, I was astonished at how prevalent cell phones had become. It seemed like everyone I met had their own phone. As of 2011, 59% of Brazilians owned a mobile phone and nearly a third of the country had access to the Internet—and these numbers have continued to increase dramatically since 2005.

Internet Access

Mark Zuckerburg recently announced an ambitious project that aims to make the Internet available to—you won’t believe this—every person on the earth. Called simply Internet.org, the organization has partnered with Samsung, Ericsson, Nokia, and other notable tech giants.

“The Internet is such an important thing for driving humanity forward, but it’s not going to build itself,” Zuckerburg said in a recent interview with the New York Times. Access to the Internet would provide an increase in education and health that many areas of the world still lack. But Zuckerburg isn’t the only one lobbying for increased availability.

In June, we saw Google test Project Loon in New Zealand (see the video to the right). Loon is a network of balloons launched 11 miles in the air to provide Internet access to the regions of the world that would otherwise be considered “off the grid.” As these projects gain traction, people are lining up on both sides of the issue. Many view Internet access plans as financially motivated acts veiled as humanitarian aid—our modern day Pandora’s box.

Social Media

Of course, access to the Internet leads to participation on social media, which can be used in developing nations to help unite citizens, report corruption, and disseminate information during disasters, to name a few benefits. The Arab Spring provides a perfect example of how powerful social networking can be as more and more people adopt it.

A recent study by Pew Research showed that people in lower income countries are more likely to access social networking sites than those who live in countries like Britain, Russia and Spain, once given access to the Internet.

Facebook use grew in the Middle East and Africa by 29% in 2012, and continues to grow today. As of March of this year, over 50 million people in Africa use Facebook. The chart below, from the Afrographique Tumblr, displays some eye-opening statistics on Facebook use across Africa.

Data Analysis

Charles Duhigg recently published an article detailing how Target used purchase history data to identify a teen girl in Minnesota as being pregnant before her father even knew. Similarly, analysts are using Twitter- and SMS-generated data to foresee rises in unemployment and the spread of disease. “We’re trying to track unemployment and disease as if it were a brand,” Robert Kirkpatrick, director of the United Nations Global Pulse team, told the New York Times.

Companies and nonprofits like Global Pulse are advocating for a push in “Data Philanthropy,” the sharing of data from private sector companies for public benefit. This data sharing would allow data miners to identify spikes in unemployment, price rises and disease, among other advantages, months before official statistics are released.

So What?

Access to the Internet and social media tools allow communities to develop faster, providing advantages they wouldn’t otherwise have. Continued technological advancements can accelerate change where it is needed most. Because technology is about a lot more than creating a robot that can do stand-up comedy

Ok. I will admit. I have a crush on Atul Gawande.

I love his book, The Checklist Manifesto and his no-nonsense approach to avoiding medical errors which plague health facilities in the US.

Rather than pointing fingers he provides a practical tool for hospital staff to ensure all steps are covered during hospital procedures.

In his recent article in the July 29th New Yorker, SLOW IDEAS: Some innovations spread fast. How do you speed the ones that don’t? http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/07/29/130729fa_fact_gawande Gawande examines how important global health practices can “stick” given the right approaches and tools.

As someone who has been following the literature and practice of behavior change for 30+ years, such a treat to come across this article that succeeds in explaining behavioral theory, research and practice in one easily digestible, non-academic article.

The big take from Gawande’s article….

The gold standard for behavior change is positive personal interaction. High touch (personal interaction, mentoring, one-to-one instruction) interventions in many cases can be more effective than low touch (mass media, instructional curricula, and technology) interventions.

So in keeping with his checklist approach I will share with you my checklist from his article:

1. Observe and understand the context for why a behavior is or isn’t being practiced
2. Learn why people are doing what they are doing- and what is getting in the way of doing things the right way
3. Don’t assume that technology is the best solution (especially in global health)
4. Instructions (a checklist) followed by careful mentoring can reinforce positive behaviors for health professionals
5. Mass media is helpful to sustain a behavior over time
6. Community interventions that require a community learning a new practice need: individual interventions that demonstrate the practice; observations of community members trying the practice and monitoring of the practice over time.

I’m eagerly awaiting his next book.