Solidarity across public health and medicine silos during a pandemic

Reda Sadki Education business models, Global health, Global public health, Learning strategy

We are launching a new Scholar programme about environmental threats to health, with an initial focus on radiation. (I mapped out what this might look like in 2017.) As part of the launch, we are enlisting support of immunization colleagues.

Our immunization programme is our largest and most advanced programme, and still growing fast since its inception in 2016. At The Geneva Learning Foundation, we have spent 5 years pouring mind, body, and soul into building what has become the largest digital platform for national and sub-national immunization leaders.

Along the way, we discovered that it is not only about scale. Social Network Analysis (SNA) by colleagues Sasha Poquet and Vitomir Kovanovic at the Centre for Complexity and Change in Learning is now helping us to understand the power in the relationships not just one-to-many but many-to-many across the network.

Yes, there is a linkage as most vaccines are for children, and our first course in the new programme (with WHO) is about communicating radiation risks in paediatric imaging. But I was not sure if our request for help would make sense to the immunization network, especially when so many immunization staff are overwhelmed by COVID-19 vaccine introduction.

Yet, in less than 2 hours, immunization colleagues had already shared the announcement over 300 times. This is an impressive display of solidarity across public health and medicine silos.

This bodes well for the Foundation’s work as we are developing new programmes in other areas of global health, such as non-communicable diseases (NCDs) or neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) like female genital schistomiosis (FGS).

Until this morning, I was not sure to what extent one programme’s members would be willing to support others, outside their field of specialty.

Image: Accelerating train leaves Philadelphia for Washington, D.C. (Personal collection)