Deb Van Dyke had a busy week at the Women Deliver 2013 Conference in Malaysia (May 26-30). The conference—with over 4,500 attendees from 149 countries—was the largest of the decade focused on women’s and girls’ health and rights. Deb spoke at a session focused on the role of technology in creating lasting solutions for women, pitched Global Health Media Project at the Social Enterprise Challenge, and introduced our film “The Home Visit” at the Cinema Corner.
Her talk on the role of technology was covered by Digital News Asia.
Digital News Asia
Women’s issues and how technology can save lives
by A. Asohan, May 29, 2013
… Another woman who was driven to make changes is Deborah Van Dyke, director of the Global Health Media Project, who has worked in the underserved areas of the world for two decades.
“No mother or baby should die just because they lack access to basic knowledge and skills; yet they often do,” she said.
“Sometimes the very basics are missed, like the need to keep the baby warm after birth, giving fluids for diarrhea, recognizing pneumonia – there are so many unnecessary deaths in poor countries,” she added. “We can do better.”
A key point for Van Dyke came when she was in Afghanistan. She showed a group of health workers a short video on childbirth, and their excited reaction to seeing it being performed, virtually in front of them, was an ‘aha’ moment for her.
“Through their eyes, I realised the unique power of video to teach clinical practices,” she said. “I searched for more such videos, but found virtually none that were suitable for low-resource settings. There was a surprising gap.”
“I knew video could help clinical workers like no other method – it’s visual, step-by-step, cuts through literacy and language layers … and it makes it stick. That would be a game-changer,” she added.
So Van Dyke founded the Global Health Media Project to help bridge this knowledge gap.
“We create new media, video and animation that teach the basic practices and skills that we know will save lives. We reach providers all over the world, leveraging Internet and mobile technology,” she said.
“Access to health information that’s practical, easy to understand and easy to remember would be a breakthrough for health workers doing their best on the frontlines of care.
“Imagine the difference we could make if all health workers could see live examples of clinical signs and imagine if they had access to a whole library of essential skills and practices. Imagine also if parents had access to visual danger signs and brought their babies for care just in time.
The organisation’s videos are open access and easily viewed on mobile devices; in fact, Van Dyke said some companies are preloading them into video-capable mobile phones so that Internet access is not even necessary.
“Think about where this can take us in the next 10 years: Technology will enable us to reach health workers and families in all corners of the globe, with visual information when they need it, right at their fingertips.
“This is empowering, and life-saving,” she added.