Zika – news you can use

Finally a glimpse of hope in Zike related news! This BBC  article highlights the progress made towards a Zika vaccine and includes a 2018 release date. 

The question is why has this received so little coverage. I can see benefits on waiting to share this information until the vaccine is fully developed. It can be hard to properly disseminate highly technical information. You wouldn’t want people to think its not as serious as it is, or to give false hope.

If traveling, be sure to keep the bug spray handy this summer. Here is a great NPR article on the most effective insect repellants out there.



Local social determinants in action!

Since I’ve been on a social media kick, my goal was to find any effective social media happening locally here in NYC. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s tumblr caught my eye.

“Creating environments that make it easier and safer for communities to be physically active is a key health initiative for the Health Department.” I’m so happy to see NYC doing big things and really keeping social determinants of health as a guide in creating health programs. Here is a press release describing the event.


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Health on social

Since social media has been a big part of my internship search, I felt I really needed to start to learn who was doing it effectively. Below are some great findings.

Healthcare Influencer List

  • I had no idea that there were healthcare influencers! I’ve long been familiar with Johns Hopkins School of Public health, as it’s a top ranked MPH and med school. Here is there Twitter. It was actually a little different than I would think it would be. It was very informative, and personally being in the public health field I thought it was interesting. However, it was really only for public health professionals and those in the research world. It was very research heavy and even I had a hard time understanding their stand alone tweets. Its funny because this was one of the major reasons I passed on the MPH track. It’s all well and good to have interesting information, but if its not tied to strong intervention or communications, its effects are limited. However, I was really impressed with the CDC and APHA, but they have way less followers.

CDC Social media

  • The CDC had individual accounts for each health aliment which can be found here.  I really liked the eHealth and Diabetes accounts. My favorite initiative is the “Public Health Nerd.”  A great post is “ Suspect you are a public health nerd?” Very Creative! It doesn’t seem to be well maintained, and some of these posts are from 2013. When I checked Twitter for the#phnerd hashtag, there is a little activity, but very rarely is it linked back to the CDC. However, I’m glad I found it because people do seem to be really excited about public health. Using the hashtag I found some interesting public health Twitter accounts and organizations. There was one especially interesting organization called Lucky Iron Fish.

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  • Also worth checking out is the CDC’s instagram. I was impressed to see they have 200,000 followers! However, some posts were awkward pictures of their campaigns. I was not feeling the below pictures. They are a  bit cheesy and it took away from the other amazing posts. My favorite was about a local Ebola Campaign. There was entirely too much text, but I liked the overall idea. Another great example was an up close and personal shot of bacteria. 

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Special Note on the APHA

After doing all this social media research, I feel like the APHA deserves a special shout out. I can’t believe its taken me this long to blog about the organization. I went to the APHA conference in San Francisco a few years ago, and have been a huge fan ever since.  Its a non profit that works to connect public health professionals in the aim of improving health outcomes all over the world. Below is their simply and awesome Mission and Vision (below).

Our Mission- Improve the health of the public and achieve equity in health status.

Our Vision- Create the healthiest nation in one generation.


There are two major features on their website that really stick out. On their homepage are a list of webinars that anyone can attend. One particularly interesting one is found here.  You can even view past webinars. Here is one that addressed the Flint Water Crisis.  You can find out more about the APHA here.  The second feature that I thought was great was their Public Health Newswire. It collects all the latest health related news.


Copy That

I’ve been reading so much about advertising campaigns and about writing copy lately. I haven’t seen many health campaigns really excel at writing copy, so I wanted to find some examples that are considered a gold standard, even if I had to look to other fields.  Listed below are a few interesting blogs that give suggestions of good copy. All the examples seem to be very casual, simple and conversational in tone.

Particularly interesting was the fact that the highest ranked posts were all blogs on marketing! The most interesting part was not one single health company was listed, outside Oscar healthcare. However, Oscar is most definitely not nearly as creative as the other examples and has no blog.  Another one I really liked which was highlighted by Enchanting Marketing is Innocent drinks and here is the blog for the company. It is humorous and addresses their values of fresh ingredients, without too much of a hard sell. Particularly amazing is that the UK government site is listed. I feel like this is definitely worth a look see.

Below are some other blogs that I enjoyed:

Enchanting Marketing: 




The only real question that I have is what’s next? This is the question that constantly comes up for me. I think its my research background always wanting to know, so now what? What if all the healthcare providers starts doing this, how will people be able to differentiate between them? Maybe for some well established health centered organizations, they should avoid jumping on the bandwagon if wanting to remain credible and consistence in their patients eyes.



Health gets techy

Last week I wrote a paper on a great tech startup. It made me wonder what else is around and it seems the health startup scene is off the charts. This article pointed me to a few that were noteworthy.

I.couch.me in this article, shows how using web conferences to remove barriers that keep people from getting the help they may need. However, there are serious checks and balances that need to be put into place to make sure this actually benefits the patients and makes sure that people aren’t just investing money into another thing that is suppose to help but doesn’t bc there is no quality assurance.
Another startup that I heard about at a recent tech start up fair was Medisafe. They actually have well written, simple blog. This post is worth highlighting due to a featured testimonial about Medisafe. I would say these are pretty strong communications for a fledgling company only opening within past three years, they have communications similar to big budget pharmaceutical company. I particularly like their mission statement that talks about their own family’s struggles with medications management here. It shares the founders fathers had mistakenly taken too much insulin which I thought was a powerful opening statement.


Lastly, they work to engage and empower users by asking for their input (below). This is rare for a health centered organization to ask for patient input, as often it tends to be a top to bottom approach in the health and medical field. This seems to be a great way to generate positive customer feedback, which can then be recycled into marketing materials.


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Bourdain: Reason 9999 I love New York City

I can’t wait until I meet Anthony Bourdain, its going to be a hoot and we are just going to hit it off. Until then, I’ll post about Tony’s journey from the kitchen to social issues. One of my favorite shows ever is “Parts Unknown.” I was fairly easily able to find a transcript of one of the most interesting episodes that highlights life in Mexico and struggles faced there. I know this article doesn’t specifically address health. However, there is something to be learned about the ease in which he is able to jump from something that can be considered more trivial, or less serious, like street food, to deeply rooted societal social issues. Here is a Washington Post article he wrote on his episode on Iran and I really enjoyed his Beirut article. He is the master storyteller, and if he could ever incorporate or tackle health issues, it would be amazing.

The one thing that is definitely health related is the food he showcases. As I’ve learned in class, often immigrants from across the globe come with protective factors, or otherwise known as behaviors that promote health. Often the ways foods are prepared and ingredients used are all local, but more importantly, they are super healthy. Once different groups come here, they lose these traditions, and sometimes end up eating really unhealthy fast food, simply because that is what is around, cheap and available. Bourdain does show there are other ways to healthy eating, that help to decrease obesity and show alternatives to the unhealthy food preparation techniques commonly used here in the US.

Picture this…

Since I’ve been posting a lot about pictures, I wanted to look into what makes a powerful picture. Here , here, and here are 3 quick and interesting articles on what makes pictures memorable. A quick internet search produced some of the most socially significant pictures of modern history. Buzzfeed had a extensive catalog, but be warned, they aren’t for the faint of heart.

Lastly, I did a quick search for important public health pictures. This two minute video describes how public health campaign images are now being tested for effectiveness by monitoring brain activity. Being able to harness these techniques to promote positive health outcomes is necessary in the public health world.




Lazy = driving to store and getting bacon

This is one of my favorite articles of all time. I am so happy I found it. I recognized it right away.

I remember reading this article and just having my mind bend by obstacles faced by the featured family.  I didn’t really ever think of how once one is financially unstable , how impossible it can be to change their situation. The article,” Waiting for the 8th” describes this perfectly.

Even though its been three years since I read this article, the part I remembered the most were the telling details. I remembered a slight variation of the following phrase, “Lazy would be getting in a car, turning on the heat, going to the grocery store and picking out some bacon.”

First, it reconfirms the importance of “telling details” and how this article is laced with factual information, but  it was the quote about how getting in your car and driving to get bacon is easy. I remembered it was about poverty and homelessness in DC, but it was this quote that stuck with me.

This was probably the first time I was really exposed to the idea of social determinants of health. The part of the story that is eye opening is how organized, and frugal the mother had to be just to be able to feed her children – a basic need. It  seemed like a part-time job organizing all the resources to ensure food was available. It makes perfect sense that these stressors were beginning to affect how she felt about herself and she reported,”stress, panic attacks, leg numbness and anxiety.”


Got Music?

Another thing I love about this city is the music, everywhere, all day, every day. From riding the metro listening through earbuds to unparalleled, live concerts that have a medley of members from 4+ bands. It is a deeply musical city.  Just last night I went to the Bowery Ballroom at saw three amazing acts for $15, thats $5 a pop. Can’t beat that. Small Black featured below.



Over the years I’ve read countless articles on the benefits of music. Here are a mire 20 health related benefits. I personally would not have gotten through the GRE, grad school application process and transition to NYC without tunes flowing, and on repeat.

Here is one of my favorite and most creative music related applications. NPR writes about a film that shows how a cost effective music program seemed to improve functioning and quality of life in elderly patients with Alzheimers.