WiRED Wraps up its 21st Year, Prepares for 2019

BY ALLISON KOZICHAROW; EDITED BY BERNICE BORN

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iRED International chalked up a number of accomplishments during a busy and productive 2018 in our mission to advance global health education.

 

HealthMAP

 

WiRED launched its breakthrough Health Module Access Program (HealthMAP), opening up access to its materials for millions more people. HealthMAP can now deliver free health education training material to underserved communities in the world’s most distant locations, many of which have no Internet connection.

 

HealthMAP will enable clinicians, healthcare workers, medical schools and members of the general public to select and download any of the 400+ modules from WiRED’s Health Learning Center. People can install these modules on their computers and create their own customized libraries for personal study and for presentations to community groups that lack online capability. Also, HealthMAP will launch WiRED’s global outreach effort to make modules available to nongovernmental organizations, hospitals, health ministries and other institutions that address community health matters.

 

Mother and Child Health Series and Creation of New Modules

 

2018 also saw the completion of WiRED’s Mother and Child Health Series: Motherhood Before and After, a 24-part comprehensive training program designed to assist families, caregivers and community health workers. The series will be used by schools, clinics and hospitals and nongovernmental organizations to help families prepare for a healthy pregnancy, delivery and the early years of childhood. One goal for the next year is to reach as many women as possible with the mother and child curriculum.

 

This year WiRED added new training modules to its Health Learning Center e-library, which include such topics as introduction to parenting health education training, postpartum depression, introduction to pregnant now, a four-part series on birth defects, infant health, maternal sepsis, infant feeding, nursing mother’s nutrition, child nutrition, childhood obesity, Lyme disease, Huntington’s disease, vision problems and diarrhea in adults and in children, and dehydration.

 

Work in Kenya, Armenia, Nicaragua and Peru

 

In Kenya this fall, WiRED inaugurated the Faye Cohen Certificate for Mother and Child Health and graduated its first class of recipients, who underwent careful testing on the 24 modules in the Mother and Child Health Series. This new program was named in honor of WiRED benefactor Faye Cohen and supported by her husband Sheldon. It accompanies the general WiRED Certificate Program, which graduates people who pass tests on wide-ranging health topics such as disease prevention, nutrition, hygiene and water purification, and basic anatomy.

 

Also in Kenya, WiRED’s health education programs were used to train community health workers, who, in turn, trained community members in home-based care for bedridden clients. The centers have attracted students from medical schools who use the modules to conduct their research and to prepare for their exams. WiRED also distributed 300 pairs of reading glasses to middle-aged and older Kenyans who had deteriorating eyesight and no money to pay for glasses.

 

In Armenia, WiRED, handed out certificates of appreciation to honor 24 Armenian volunteers and organizations for accomplishments such as translating 18 WiRED health learning modules into Armenian, offering training sessions and generally promoting the partnership of WiRED-Armenia and WiRED International. In addition, the WiRED-Armenia staff taught a group of young people ages 13 to 17 about nutrition using WiRED’s Adult Nutrition Module.

 

WiRED continued its work in the Peruvian Amazon by providing health education and by outfitting our partner organization, Project Amazonas, with a field-ready electronic medical record system that operates entirely off the grid — call it an electronic medical record in a box. Further, our work continues in Nicaragua. Here, our health modules serve as teaching tools for senior medical students who instruct small communities about infectious and non-communicable diseases and topics related to mother and child health.

 

For the first twenty years of our work, WiRED staff and volunteers had to distribute our training material to each user, and that was often a challenge in difficult-to-reach places. Now, with the Health MAP program mentioned earlier, WiRED’s geographic reach has expanded to the entire world, so the programs once available as hand-delivered modules can now be downloaded and shared by local people anywhere on earth. Moreover, local people can access the material day or night without involving WiRED’s staff directly. All the material is free and just a click away to all people with an interest in individual and community health.

 

Global Health Issues

 

This year WiRED continued to report on topics such as the increase in tick and mosquito infections, antibiotic resistance, the cancer threat in Africa, a health crisis in Yemen, a worldwide resolution on rheumatic heart disease, and updates on cholera, yellow fever and Ebola.

WiRED firmly believes in the One Health philosophy, which recognizes that human health is connected to the health of animals and to the health of the environment. In 2018 The Medical Journal of Southern California Clinicians published an article entitled “The Importance of a One Health Perspective in a Changing Environment.” The piece was authored by Western University professor and WiRED board member, Miriam Othman, M.D., M.P.H., Malika Kachani, Ph.D., D.V.M., and WiRED’s Director, Gary Selnow, Ph.D. The authors covered the history of human and animal health, the logic of One Health thinking, zoonotic diseases and the role of healthcare professionals in the One Health program.

 


Health workers using the Faye and Sheldon Cohen Community Health Education Center to study
infectious diseases and chronic illnesses.

Among the nearly 80 articles written for its website this year, WiRED posted editorials on issues such as the dangers of climate change and the need to protect and encourage breastfeeding. Climate change and associated environmental hazards strike the entire planet but hit underserved populations hardest. Global policies on breastfeeding affect women everywhere, but especially in low-resource regions.

 

Looking Ahead

 

All of us at WiRED are planning an exciting and productive 2019 in our ongoing commitment to global health education. Next up for us is the development of a complete curriculum for community health workers, who are the backbone of health services in underserved regions. This is a major project, but the payoff for global health in underserved regions can be extraordinary. This program is now well underway.

 

We urge you to join us in 2019 as we strive to raise the quality of health knowledge and the prevention of illness in remote and medically starved communities worldwide. It is our firm belief that community health begins with knowledge.

 

 

 

Trying Out New Eyeglasses
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