Over the course of the next ten days we are publishing a series of Blogs on R4D Dialogue about our experiences at the recent 6th World Conference of Science Journalists. The content of these blogs will include personal reflections on the event, practical ideas on communicating science-based research, and feedback and discussion on how R4D was marketed at the event. Below is the first instalment, it looks at how existing project networks might be shared for more widespread communication of health related issues.
The news breaks that a clinical trial is being launched in three African countries of a drug that could eliminate onchocerciasis, or river blindness, as it is more commonly known.
The drug, “moxidectin, is being investigated for its potential to kill or sterilize the adult worms of Onchocerca volvulus, which cause onchocerciasis.
The World Health Organisation’s media operation swings into action. The news that this illness, which has devastated lives in 30 African countries for hundreds of years, broke on July 1. The African scientists behind the discovery from the World Health Organisation and Wyeth appeared at the World Federation of Science Journalists Congress to explain and provide information on the trials and the drug.
What’s interesting to science communicators and research communication projects is hidden in the detail. There is a distribution network already set up by this project which will provide 4,000 community access points in Ghana, Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Imagine the potential that could exist for dissemination of information and engagement with rural communities if research projects with mutual aims shared networks and ‘linkedin’ in with each other to use these channels? What are the opportunities that can be explored to share the results of research which could be applicable on a wide scale? This is not to suggest that research projects expect other organisations to do their communications work for them. Instead it is to look around and investigate opportunities for collaboration not only in dissemination terms but resource sharing in terms of setup.
Some organisations and research projects no doubt do this. Panos Relay have worked with ZAMBART, the Zambian AIDS-related Tuberculosis project, Lusaka, Zambia on behalf of the Consortia led by the programme for Tropical diseases but do we have the chance to do this on a wider scale??? Can we break down the barriers and connect to these communities to share information that can increase livelihoods?
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