Dr. Claudia Parvanta, professor and chair of the Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences at University of the Sciences, had an opportunity this summer to speak at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva on July 29, 2011. She was invited by Dr. Juan Pablo Pena-Rosas, director of the Micronutrients Division of Nutrition at WHO, to address WHO staff and invited guests about health communication, social marketing, and advocacy as applied to global nutrition campaigns. Dr. Parvanta, who directed health communication at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) from 1999-2005, teaches anthropology, health communication and public health at USciences.
More than 40 people from WHO along with representatives from such organizations as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), The Global Vaccine Initiative (GAVI), and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) were there for communications advice. All of the organizations are attempting to work globally to solve major health problems.
“Many program managers are unsure about the best strategies to use when trying to inform or persuade individual or community decisions that will enhance health,” said Dr. Parvanta, who is the lead author of “Essentials of Public Health Communication.”
Familiar with the issues WHO faces in regards to social marketing and health communication, Dr. Parvanta provided practical ways to apply communication in strategic areas.
Her visit also provided an opportunity for Dr. Parvanta to introduce USciences MS Pharmacy Administration student Raheel Arif to Dr. Pena-Rosas. Arif, who worked with Dr. Parvanta in developing ancillary materials for her book as well as other health communication projects, will participate in a four-month internship with WHO in the Nutrition unit.
Dr. Parvanta intends to continue her work with Dr. Pena-Rosas and WHO in planning collaborative projects for students interested in health communication, health policy, or the public health fields. The first of many projects is development of an interactive tool that will gauge whether countries are implementing the communication components of their national micronutrient program according to best practices. This program follows on guidelines to which Dr. Parvanta contributed while at CDC. (For more on Dr. Claudia Parvanta’s work with WHO, see http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/guide_food_fortification_micronutrients.pdf