Social Media: Putting the “Public” Back in Public Health


A decade ago the health sector was only beginning to embrace information and communication technologies (ICT) in a meaningful way. Today ICTs are changing health around the world. This session focuses on the use of social media in engaging, informing and reaching the public on health matters of all kinds. It will highlight some important trends and explore the emerging global opportunities of using social media to connect for health.

1. Engaging the public in global health matters: WHO HQ

As use of social media has accelerated around the world there are new opportunities to engage and inform the public. What has this meant for global health? Where have we succeeded, what are some of the challenges, and where is the future taking us? WHO’s Department of Communications shares experience and insights on the evolving role of social media and its strategic use in the global context.

2. Lessons from the field: Social media and Typhoon Haiyan

Social media is re-shaping health communication as we know it, and in a very short time has become an essential channel in emergencies and their aftermath. The experience of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, where thousands of lives were lost amid massive destruction of property shows just how important this channel has become. This session highlights lessons from the field, showing how relevant, just-in-time information as a crisis unfolds can make a critical difference in people’s safety, lives and well-being.

3.  Can YouTube and Twitter inform health policy?

How can we make creative use of public platforms to inform public policy in the digital age?  Some governments are doing just that, interacting with constituents by linking public platforms in innovative and low-cost ways. Hear how the Norwegian ministry of health reaches its citizens to share its public policy agenda, answer burning questions and gather extensive public input to help shape relevant, responsive solutions to the policy questions of the day.

Speakers / panellists
  • Monika Gehner, Department of Communications, WHO
  • Chantal Claravall, Department of Communications, WHO
  • Helge Blindheim, Department of Health, Norway
Session's link to WSIS Action Lines
  • C7. ICT Applications: E-health

WSIS Forum 2015 | Innovating Together: Enabling ICTs for Sustainable Development
25–29 May 2015, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Place des Nations, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland