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Communicating health: challenges, trends and opportunities

Blog post developed for the Global Health Council’s website.

“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much” – Helen Keller

Health is a complex and multifaceted issue. The challenges faced today will not be resolved in silo. Whether you work with a non-profit, company or government, we are all part of a complex ecosystem, with the success of one dependent on the success of all.

Communications – internal and external – are an essential part of this picture. But as the day-job takes over, it can be hard to keep track of sector trends and best practices. That’s why we asked our network to share some of the key challenges and opportunities they face when it comes to developing and managing their communications.

You won’t be surprised to hear that time and resources emerged as one of the most critical barriers to success – with many organisations limited by the size of their team (especially when relative to the volume of work) and budget to invest. Other responses also included the difficulty of staying relevant and visible in a world full of competing health priorities, and the challenges presented by the ever-changing landscape that is social media and digital technology. Should we all be on TikTok? Will influencers share their voice for free? Is it okay to use an AI-generated image in our annual report?

It might feel overwhelming at times, but with every challenge comes an opportunity. And as the conversation finally turns from COVID-19, there is clear excitement about the future, and the possibilities it holds. In particular, we noticed a move to embrace:

  • Creative new partnerships: with funders, corporate organisations and sector peers. Breaking down silos between organisations and sectors will help create efficiencies, unlock new resources, and embed a ‘One Health’ approach to healthcare development.
  • Digital tools: as hard as it can be to keep pace, it’s worth making the effort to keep up. Whether it’s using WhatsApp to engage with groups and communities, TikTok to reach new and younger audiences, or AI to get new perspectives and streamline processes, with every digital “disruption” comes a chance to level-up your communications function.
  • More creative, authentic communications: including a move away from top-down narratives (the single story) to responsible and ethical storytelling practices that realise the power and potential of co-created content.

As health communications specialists, we are working to stay ahead of these trends and make the most of these opportunities. It’s why initiatives like the Global Health Council are so important. Yes, there is a lot that we can share. But we also have a lot to learn, and the more we know about the sector, the better placed we are to support it.

Whether you’re looking to attract new partners and funders with a creative campaign, expand and strategise your social media content, or raise the voice of people delivering and impacted by your work – it’s time to break down the silos, and make your communications as strong as can be. Contact us to find out how.

Finally, if you work in global health communications, why not join one of our Global Health Moments webinars? Designed with your needs in mind, this unique series is your chance to make new connections, sharpen your skills and stay ahead of trends and best practices. 

By Jen Ruthe and  Marina Monzeglio, Infinity Communications.


Image description: At a market in Kingabwa, community health workers from Action Humanitaire pour le Développement Durable Intégral Congolais (Humanitarian Action for Congolese Sustainable Development)—a partner of le Fonds pour les Femmes Congolaises (The Fund for Congolese Women)—distribute condoms and share family planning information to educate the community about reproductive health options.
© Getty Images/Images of Empowerment