Archive for the ‘Social Marketing’ Tag

Water, water nowhere: Social marketing and the quest for access to clean water

It’s one of the most essential things to a healthy life and taken for granted by those who have it. Lack of access to clean water plagues affected people with completely preventable diseases.

Argentina is the first developing country that I have lived in that has had water that you can drink from the tap without a filter but I still meet patients who do not have steady access to water. 1.1 billion people do not have access to clean water to drink, cook, bathe, and cultivate crops. Safe water helps to prevent diarrhea and other waterbourne diseases common to high rates of childhood mortality. Americans have seen some of the possible effects of unclean water on the food supply with outbreaks of salmonella and E. coli in the food supply. Fortunately, Americans also have access to antibiotics to treat these diseases. Millions are not so fortunate where outbreaks of water bourne illnesses are the norm rather than the exception.

A cost-effective intervention, both in regard to prevention and sustained wellbeing, access to safe water continues continues to lag in most development programs. Here is what the Millennium Development Goals have to access to clean water:

“Goal 7, target 10 of the Millennium Development Goals aims at halving by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.”

Population Services International (PSI), a leader in social marketing campaigns, together with Proctor & Gamble has implemented a large social marketing effort to get safe water systems into homes. The systems allow the users to purify the water they do have access to with a powder that clears the water of pathogens and dangerous impurities leaving the water as clear as water from the tap. The powder is inexpensive to produce and can be produced locally. PSI leads educational campaigns to promote proper usage and hygiene.

World Vision UK has released a new viral video that targets the importance of clean water.

Hat tip: Osocio

Some innovative social entrepreneurship efforts are taking on the challenge as well. The LifeStraw filters water at the source, lasting for 700 liters of water purification. The newest campaign called the Coca Cola campaign that I have learned about comes from Simon Berry. Here’s is the idea of the campaign from the Facebook group:

Our idea is:
That Coca Cola use their distribution channels (which are amazing in developing countries) to distribute rehydration salts. Maybe by dedicating one compartment in every 10 crates as ‘the life saving’ compartment?

Check out the Coca Cola campaign or any of the other organizations listed below to learn how you can help.

Other organizations concerned with access to safe, clean water:

Water Aid
World Vision


Making vaccines more accessible

flickr image courtesy of phitar

flickr image courtesy of phitar

While at a conference for my job last year, I saw a small anti-vaccine protest in front of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. The protesters were there claiming that one of the components in vaccines, mercury thimerosal, causes autism, an assertion that has not been proven in countless scientific studies. What countless studies have proven is that vaccines have saved millions of lives and prevented life-debilitating disabilities, making immunization one of the most important public health discoveries in history.

There is a need to change perception of the safety of vaccines. The very ubiquity of vaccines cause people to take for granted the absence of deadly diseases like smallpox. Rejection of recommended vaccines may explain why there has been a resurgence of preventable diseases such as measles and whooping cough.

A recent article in the New York Times discussed why false information tends to have influence even when it has been shown to be false. Source amnesia causes humans to respond to false information as though it were true despite being shown evidence that counters that false claim. Source amnesia may bear part of the blame for the existing perception that vaccines cause autism.

Overcoming this particular false perception represents a tough social marketing challenge. You have a highly vocal and motivated minority actively trying to stop a positive intervention. Fear and misinformation has taken the place of rational discussion based on scientific evidence. How do you make one perceived risk (autism) seem less dangerous and/or less likely than the actual risk (death and disability)?

For more information about vaccines, visit Voices for Vaccines.

Hat tip to Nedra for the NYT article link via Twitter.

Ignorance is bliss…maybe

One of the less frequent visitors came by the center for the first time in several months. She is a 29 year mother with three kids and an alcoholic, abusive husband. She was diagnosed in 2004 and the results from her analysis have always been normal but always at the lowest end of the range. She has seen four of the doctors at the clinic who have all told her that she should start treatment so that she can continue to stay healthy. She avoids starting treatment because living in denial feels safer and allows her to put off making serious decisions about her life. Continue reading