Journalists, film-makers, and public health experts are all known for narrative stories that work to make the world a better place. They also all typically: care about people, show up when things go wrong, and get the word out to mobilize response. This is why journalism and public health, working collaboratively, are powerful synergistic partners in developing ways to address global health challenges. A late March panel and conference sponsored by the Boston University Program for Global Health Storytelling drew on wisdom from experts in public health, news, and film media to encourage effective storytelling for health, with particular emphasis on the global HIV/AIDS pandemic and the aim of the Sustainable Development Goals to end global poverty by 2030.
The Global Health Storytelling Program (formerly the Program on Crisis Response and Reporting), encourages educators as well as media and health professionals; last year three of its four co-founders inspired secondary and community college teachers and fellows who were participating in the Harvard University Global Studies Outreach collaboration (GSOC) summer educator workshop, one of the cross-university partnerships that GHELI co-sponsors. Such opportunities—to think about the power of journalism in the health sciences and the power of public health in the humanities—emphasize the need for what health policy expert Shahira Ahmed, one of the panelists, called “new tools for more holistic, multisectoral, and innovative approaches.”