A Vision of Health: Using the Web to Fight Disease
Global Health TV is an online resource that aims to help health professionals around the world tackle disease. New Media Knowledge caught up with the site’s producers to learn more about its work.
In its own words, Global Health TV sets out to “enable health organisations around the world to share the work they are doing to address complex global health problems with a diverse audience.” This audience is made up of health-care professionals and foundations, businesses, government agencies, academic institutes and other interested parties.
Global Health TV is comprised of three parts - a daily-updated website which hosts video and print news, reporting from major health industry conferences and an initiative called From the Field, which allows health workers around the world to upload videos of the work they’re doing and share knowledge with other professionals.
NMK spoke to Stephen Horn, CEO of WebsEdge, the producers of Global Health TV, to learn more about Global Health TV and its potential impact on world health.
What was the inspiration for Global Health TV? What else is out there at the minute to educate the field?
Global Health TV was born from an idea I had to produce television programmes at conferences. I found that lots of information was being shared by conference organisers, organisations, members and so forth, but there wasn’t one place to get a summary of it all. I thought we could do this by creating a TV channel and accompanying website, a one-stop shop for global health news and video. We have a strong belief that video has power - it’s informative but also engaging.
We recently launched From the Field, which is an area on our website where organisations can share what they are doing in various parts of the world – a YouTube for Global Health issues and practices, you might say.
There are other websites that share news in global health - The Lancet, for example - and websites that can host video - again, YouTube being the classic example - but there isn’t a website which brings the two together, which is what Global Health TV aims to do. We now are creating an online television network for the 21st century by placing Global Health TV players on partner websites. This gives Global Health TV reach beyond our main website and connects the global health community in a way traditional television never could.
When and how did you set it up, who were the backers and what were the main challenges?
We created Global Health TV in 2006 for the Global Health Council at its annual conference. They have been very supportive of our work and put us in contact with other organisations so that we could expand our reach, including Women Deliver and the Geneva Health Forum, both of which we’ve made conference TV for.
The main challenge for us is fashioning a place that can aggregate global health news and video. We’re finding there is real interest from the public for something that can do this, but not much among broadcasters in providing it. Of course, a real challenge also lies in giving voices to overlooked communities around the world access to 21st century communications technology and giving them the opportunity to join the debate.
How does From the Field work?
Anyone who wants to submit a video to From the Field can do so by simply uploading it directly to our website or by sending us a DVD. We constantly review the content to make sure it’s appropriate. Interested organisations and individuals can then browse the From the Field section by keywords and categories to find more about the topics they are interested in.
Who’s currently using the site?
There is a wide range of major corporate, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and governments who are using our website, and for different reasons. We’ve worked with Eli Lilly, The Gates Foundation and the Stop TB Partnership, for example, who use our site to showcase their work. Others come for our daily updated news or for video content such as interviews with thought leaders in the field.
The From the Field initiative is being used by charities, as they are the most interested in seeing what others (like themselves) are doing to tackle global health issues around the world.
Is it difficult to view video in the field, such as bandwidth? How are these overcome in rural Africa, for example?
To be honest, there is not much of a bandwidth issue. Videos are easy to upload and are normally done by the NGOs working with the communities. But we ourselves have also gone out into the field to try and help communities share their message. Last year, we visited a charity project that we sponsor, called Isibindi in Illinge, South Africa. We found so much good work being done, that we didn’t want to be the only ones to know about it. We’ve covered their story on our website, and have found out recently that the village is now being used as a pilot case study for education in the whole of South Africa. This is what continually drives us to share the great news that people are creating around the world.
If it’s a free resource, how do you make money?
The important thing is that Global Health TV is not primarily a financial exercise, but we do cover our costs through working with governments and larger organisations which sponsor some of our video content.
Is there a social networking aspect? Are you trying to build a community?
Absolutely! The whole point of the From the Field section of our website is to share information in an engaging manner, and you can comment on any of our videos. We want to inspire debate, and stimulate discussion. If we can have an organisation in Africa sharing its strategies for coping with HIV/AIDS with an organisation in Asia then we’ve really helped in ensuring that the best strategies are known and used by all. We really excited about the potential this could have. We’ve also just launched on Twitter and we’re seeing a huge amount of people are interested in what we have to say on that platform, too.
We’ve learned that communities in all parts of the world face the same challenges. Although the language and culture may be different the challenges are often the same. The same methods that work well for community health initiatives in Nairobi often also work in Delhi, Manila or Washington DC. The whole point of Global Health TV is to connect global health communities.