‘Moving images’ help health workers save lives

Seeing is believing. Researchers Pat Hoddinott and Roisin Pill found that “The decision to initiate breast feeding is influenced more by embodied knowledge gained from seeing breast feeding than by theoretical knowledge about its benefits” in Qualitative study of decisions about infant feeding among women in east end of London. In other words, we must see (and do) breastfeeding to learn to breastfeed.

The power of visuals are equally important to professionals working to help these breastfeeding dyads.

Internationally, frontline health workers have little access to critical health care information, including lactation and breastfeeding management.

unnamed-3Global Health Media founder Deb Van Dyke, a family practice clinician from Vermont with extensive international experience, realized the training hurdles in bringing basic lifesaving technologies– like early breastfeeding initiation– to these frontline health workers.

Van Dyke tells the poignant story of how she came to appreciate the power of video as a teaching tool on her website:

In a remote corner of South Sudan—where I was running a medical program with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders in 2008—I was called to a difficult birth in the middle of the night. When I arrived our doctor and midwife were trying to resuscitate the baby.  I quickly realized that they didn’t know how and I intervened. We started giving the baby breaths and he soon started breathing on his own.

This experience affected me deeply. I thought of all the health workers across the world who face the anguish of a newborn not breathing and don’t know how to help. It’s an infrequently needed but life-saving skill—a skill every birth attendant needs to know.

I imagined video zooming in on that relatively simple resuscitation procedure—showing health workers how a limp blue newborn can come alive with breaths. It’s extraordinary to see. I knew if health workers could see that, they would never forget it. It was in that moment that the first seeds of Global Health Media Project were planted.

I knew real-life video had the power to teach like no other medium.

Now, Global Health Media offers a variety of succinct, engaging videos to virtually every country in the world.

Video projects include newborn care, childbirth, breastfeeding and cholera series all available to frontline health workers for free.

The videos are made  “as accessible as possible by providing various bandwidths to address connectivity challenges, as well as various formats for different display needs — from mobile phones to tablets to computers.”

The videos give viewers  a “sense of belonging in the world” because they show that “their circumstances are similar to what other people are facing in other parts of the world,” Van Dyke said in an Our Milky Way interview. The project’s impact is made evident in Stories from the Field.

Staff from UNICEF, WHO, Ministries of Health, and other teaching institutions and NGOs increasingly use Global Health Media videos in their training programs as well.

Recently, Global Health Media’s Danger Signs in Newborns video was used in a study in Eastern Uganda which “demonstrated the crucial contribution that videos can make in teaching mothers basic information about health care.” [Retrieved from: http://globalhealthmedia.org/uganda-study-shows-effectiveness-of-newborn-videos/ ]

In response to little progress made on the Millennium Development Goals focused on maternal child health, Van Dyke and her team started with videos central to these issues.

Last month eight new breastfeeding videos were released, including Early Initiation of Breastfeeding which follows three dyads from different continents. Each baby is immediately placed skin-to-skin on his or her mother after birth and crawls to the breast to self attach.

With regards to other breastfeeding videos, Van Dyke reported that is was often difficult to get footage of proper latch.

unnamed-2Invariably, mothers do not know about deep latch, she said. It was also challenging to find an effective angle to film.

One would never consider these challenges when viewing the stunning, final videos. The videos are edited in a way which direct the eyes to important components of breastfeeding issues at hand.

Van Dyke and colleagues’ future plans include the completion of a series on the care of premature and low birth weight babies. The video series would complement Helping Babies Survive.

In an interview with Karen Feldscher, Van Dyke said,  “We are eager to bring alive this simple and elegant solution of ‘moving images’ to help health workers gain the knowledge and basic skills that we know save lives.”

Global Health Media’s website provides a comprehensive section on how you can get involved. Click here to learn more.

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