Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Viral Content: the role of social media in global health

Very recently, an example of the power of social media in global health was seen, as a striking interactive map of vaccine preventable outbreaks since 2008 by GAVI Alliance went, well, viral on Twitter.

Within a week more than 500,000 people had visited the map, and in an intriguing piece of research the trail of tweets led all the way back to a post by CEO, Dr Seth Berkley, a few weeks earlier.

As gratifying as the origins of this post’s spread may be, the unusual success of this map begs an important question about the important potential of using social media for communicating challenging global health issues like immunization. Are we making the most of its responsive potential and huge reach?

With the social media platforms like Twitter constantly overflowing with a tangle of questions, concerns and misinformation surrounding vaccines, the rise of infographics and interactive visuals provides a unique opportunity for those with the data to back vaccine effectiveness to more effectively communicate the evidence that can save lives.

And that online communities can respond so positively to this exercise in data sharing should give us hope for the future of communications surrounding public health measures. The digital world of social media is primed and ready to share and interact with meaningful and engaging data sets and the case studies, the challenge now is to ensure that those with the evidence grant social media enough importance to translate it engagingly to digital platforms, thereby making the most of social media as a public information tool.

To get our take on vaccines research, accessibility, global health and immunisation on social media, follow us on Twitter @Hillemanlab or join the conversation using #vaccineswork

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Hilleman Laboratories is a global vaccine research & development organization focused on making affordable vaccines using innovation to address gaps that exist in low resource settings. Hilleman Labs acts as a catalyst in bridging the gap between academic research and product development by targeting novel vaccines and increasing the efficiency of existing vaccines. Know More

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