WiRED International Wraps Up Its 20th Year, Prepares to Begin a Third Decade

BY ALLISON KOZICHAROW AND BERNICE BORN

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he WiRED International team celebrated its 20th anniversary this year and chalked up a number of accomplishments it made to advance the life-saving health education — which it provides at no charge to people in underserved communities around the world.

 

At WiRED’s 20th anniversary reception in October, WiRED Board member Dr. Richard Carmona, 17th Surgeon General of the United States, delivered a powerful and motivating keynote speech that showed the ability of health education to establish bonds and unite people throughout the world.

 

“If I’d had the WiRED equivalent as Surgeon General, I could have changed the world.”
— Dr. Richard Carmona
17th Surgeon General of the United States

He said, “If I’d had the WiRED equivalent as Surgeon General, I could have changed the world. Because you have a distribution network, you have intellectual property, you have content that nobody else has. And you reach the world. And this is more than just a bunch of good people doing nice things for poor people. It’s much bigger. This is health diplomacy.”

 


WiRED Board member Dr. Richard Carmona,
17th Surgeon General of the United States

Some of Dr. Carmona’s comments are captured in WiRED’s newly released 20th anniversary video, which brings WiRED’s mission and history to life.

 

2017 was a busy year for WiRED. The organization added nearly 100 new and updated training modules to its Health Learning Center e-library on airborne diseases, foodborne diseases, yellow fever, labor and delivery, pregnancy-induced hypertension and many other health-related conditions. WiRED currently provides 400+ health education modules, many translated from English into Spanish, Portuguese, Armenian, Mandarin, Arabic and French. A module is often created in response to an urgent need, such as the appearance of the Zika virus in Africa and in the Americas or the rise of leptospirosis in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

 

[The Community Preparedness] program is WiRED’s largest-ever single release of training material and offers nearly 50 topics, based on the World Health Organization’s prediction of the most common infections.

WiRED inaugurated a project on Community Preparedness for Infectious Disease Outbreaks. This program is WiRED’s largest-ever single release of training material and offers nearly 50 topics, based on the World Health Organization’s prediction of the most common infections likely to cause an outbreak. The distinct feature of this project is that, using only two pieces of information provided by the user, a computer program instantly creates a customized training course.

 

WiRED endorses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s One Health philosophy, which the WiRED team has always believed in. One Health recognizes that human health is connected to the health of animals and to the health of the environment. Accordingly, WiRED describes in Web stories and elsewhere that climate change and associated environmental hazards strike the entire planet and especially affect the health of underserved populations.

 

WiRED-Armenia conducted its first-ever televised health training session in Gavar, Armenia.

In 2017 WiRED grew its existing programs in Armenia, Nicaragua and Kenya. The WiRED-Armenia partnership bore special fruit this year. A team in Armenia translated 15 WiRED health education modules into the Armenian language on key topics such as diabetes, dental hygiene and smoking cessation. WiRED-Armenia conducted its first-ever televised health training session in Gavar, Armenia, which opened up a new way to educate larger audiences about health issues.

 

In Nicaragua, WiRED expanded its work with the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua, Leon, by training medical students, providing equipment and updating WiRED’s health education modules.

 

[The WiRED] centers have attracted students from medical schools who use the modules to conduct their research and to prepare for their exams.

In Kenya, WiRED’s health education programs trained community health workers, who, in turn, trained community members in home-based care for bedridden clients and also trained people who are caring for children at home. The centers have attracted students from medical schools who use the modules to conduct their research and to prepare for their exams.

 


Lillian Dajoh and Sr. Bernadette Nealon

This fall, WiRED presented Sr. Bernadette Nealon and Ms. Lillian Dajoh with the Health Education Champion Award for Outstanding Leadership in our Community Health Education Program, citing their work among critically underserved populations in Kisumu, Kenya. Together, they organized our current health outreach programs that have trained many people through the facilities at Pandipieri and Obunga. Working with dedicated staff members in both locations, they have made WiRED’s community health training programs successful beyond our imagination. (See the video conversation between Sr. Bernadette and Lillian Dajoh here.)

 

WiRED began a certificate program in Kenya in 2011 in order to encourage community members to study health modules, and, when they’re ready, to be tested on the material. More than 300 people have received certificates from WiRED’s program so far, and, this year, more than 130 people earned certificates for completing the study of thousands of modules.

 

During the past few years, WiRED has focused on rheumatic heart disease (RHD), a preventable chronic heart condition that starts with strep throat. Our animation explaining RHD (posted on YouTube) was chosen to be shown at the 2017 Global Public Health Film Festival sponsored by the American Public Health Association.

 

To commemorate WiRED’s development these past 20 years, each month in 2017 WiRED Director Gary Selnow, Ph.D., planned a web story on WiRED’s history, from its earliest beginnings in Vukovar, Croatia, to today, when WiRED no longer needs boots on the ground or physical buildings to deliver health education globally. WiRED’s history and timeline can be accessed on its anniversary page. In addition Dr. Selnow was moved to write several editorials on topics such as the Paris Climate Agreement and WiRED’s Stand on Science.

 

WiRED also released a general brochure that can be downloaded and printed. This colorful booklet features photos of people WiRED serves worldwide and a timeline showing WiRED’s history from 1997 to 2017. The brochure includes WiRED’s history, mission, websites, and programs plus testimonials from people who have benefitted from WiRED’s free health education — all in one neat package.

 

Since its inception, WiRED has offered health education free to all, especially because populations that need the information most are least able to afford it.

Since its inception, WiRED has offered health education free to all, especially because populations that need the information most are least able to afford it. With the help of generous donors, WiRED will continue to offer reliable, expertly developed health education programs.

 

The next decade will be an exciting and ambitious one. WiRED and its tireless volunteers look forward to a productive 2018 to further their commitment to global health education. WiRED urges you to join its team as it strives to raise the quality of health knowledge and to prevent illness in remote and medically starved communities worldwide.

 

 

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