Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Social media playing critical role in public health

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Social media is known for its fast dissemination of information.  Perhaps the public will benefit most from the way public health matters are quickly spreading.  In a recent article at Medical, Marketing and Media, they looked at the impact of information spreading through social media and how that aided public health.  Examples of situations in which the impact was substantial were the H1N1 Flu Epidemic, the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill, and the 2011 Egyptian uprising.  Specifically in the case of the Haitian earthquake, afterwards as chlorea was spreading throughout the waterways, the dissemination could be traced and locals could be notified when their water was going to be tainted due to the tracking via social media.

According to the Raina M. Merchant, an emergency physician and assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Pearlman School of Medicine, "Clearly, social media are changing the way people communicate not only in their day-to-day lives, but also during disasters that threaten public health.  Engaging with and using emerging social media may well place the emergency-management community, including medical and public health professionals, in a better position to respond to disasters."

What other examples have you seen that showcase the way social media can help spread public and awareness of health conditions?

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