The power of healthcare comms can work for the greater good on a global level

This autumn's Global Fund Replenishment Conference provides a powerful and timely reminder of why we work in healthcare communications.

Healthcare comms is innately powerful – but it's not enough to simply want to do good, argues Eleanor Read
Healthcare comms is innately powerful – but it's not enough to simply want to do good, argues Eleanor Read

For many of us, being able to make a real impact on the lives of people around the world is why we chose to work in healthcare comms.

At the global level, our work with clients who focus on the world’s heaviest burden of disease and the most under-served populations is one area about which healthcare communicators are particularly passionate.

In October, the Global Fund will hold its Sixth Replenishment Conference in Lyon, France.

The fund was created in 2002 to raise, manage and invest global money in the response to three of the deadliest infectious diseases the world has known: AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Its aim is to end these epidemics by 2030.

The conference marks the next round of funding from donors to the project but, more importantly, serves as a timely reminder of the challenges we still face in tackling these deadly diseases.

Despite being preventable and curable, TB remains the world’s number-one infectious disease killer – taking more than 1.6 million lives each year – and against a backdrop of considerable success in reducing the number of cases of HIV and malaria across the globe, over 770,000 people died from HIV-related causes last year and more than three billion people remain at risk of malarial infection.

With 2030 now just around the corner, the conference provides a useful reminder to us in healthcare comms of the role we can play in addressing these global health challenges by harnessing the power of the most creative comms approaches, grounded in insight and research.

Healthcare communications is innately purposeful – but it’s not enough to simply want to do good.

As an industry we need to create campaigns that really can change behaviour and are disruptive enough to gain the attention of our relevant audience, whether they are healthcare professionals, policy-makers, governments or patients.

Like many of the organisations and individuals we work with, having a real impact on the health and wellbeing of people is a driving force for those who work in the sector.

At this year’s Lions Health at the Festival of Creativity, I was invigorated by colleagues across the industry who continue to think differently and deliver healthcare comms campaigns that make that impact a reality – and I’m excited to see how we capitalise on these upcoming opportunities.

But this year – the second in a row – the Cannes Lions judges chose not to award a Health Grand Prix for Good winner in the pharmaceutical category.

Should this act as a wake-up call for healthcare comms professionals that we need to do more, and better? I think so. It should galvanise our creative thinking to think about and work on the issues of global importance to the health and wellbeing of humanity. It has certainly inspired me to make 2020 the year we change the judges’ minds.

Eleanor Read is co-lead of health and business strategy at Edelman UK

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