Social media is defined by Chadwick (2015) as any form of electronic communication through which people from all over the world can come up with online communities and develop platforms with the aim of sharing information. Social media platforms include Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube and twitter, among others. Public health, on the other hand, refers to the art and skill of averting disease so as to prolong life and promote health among various populations in the world (Redman, 2015). According to Ems and Gonzales (2015), many public health promoters, in recent years, have turned to social media in a bid to deliver public health messages. This paper analyzes a public health campaign dubbed ‘The One & Only Campaign’: a campaign that seeks to raise awareness among healthcare providers and patients about safe injection practices in an effort to get rid of infections that result from unsafe injection practices. It evaluates the target audience, the organizations responsible for driving it, why the campaign is being done on social media, its influence and what could be done to help reinforce the intended health message.
The target audience for this campaign includes patients and healthcare providers (nurses, doctors and any other person who provides injections). The main element which indicates that the patients are targeted is the bid to make patients aware that if a needle or syringe is re-used on them, they are at risk of contracting the HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C viruses. The campaign therefore encourages them to insist on a fresh syringe and needle every time they have to have an injection. In the same breath, the main element which indicates that the campaign targets healthcare providers is the creation of the awareness that re-using injection needles and syringes compromises patient safety. The campaign discourages health providers from using an injection needle or syringe on more than one patient. This is in an effort to influence the culture of patient safety. Paparella, (2011) asserts that re-using needles and syringes on patients is unsafe since it can transmit disease. The campaign seeks to prevent the transmission of disease from one patient to another.
The Safe Injections Practices Coalition (SIPC) and The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) are the main organizations behind the ‘One & Only Campaign’. The main objective of the SIPC is to ensure appropriate and safe use of injections all over the world (Paparella, 2011). On the other hand, through research, reviews and evaluation of diseases, the main objective of the CDC, is to prevent any potential diseases and infections among the people (Freeman et al, 2015). The campaign, which has an active presence on Facebook, RSS, YouTube, Pinterest, Blog and GoyDelivery, greatly contributes to the objectives of these two agencies. According to Paparella, (2011), as long as safe injection practices and patient safety are upheld, it will be possible to control infections such as HIV, Hepatitis B and C viruses. The campaign is therefore in line with the expectations of the two agencies.
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The rationale for the campaign being done on social media is mainly the vastness of the audience. According to Freeman, et al (2015), millions of people visit various social media platforms every single day. This means that the social media is a fertile ground in terms of target audiences. The main intention of the SIPC and CDC is to reach out to as many people as possible. Apart from empowering the patients, the agencies aim at re-educating healthcare providers on safe injection practices so as to promote the culture of patient safety. The message is particularly likely to generate a lot of attention from the many young people who are quite active in the social media.
The ‘One & Only Campaign’ is likely to help in modifying the existing policy on safe injection practices. According to Paparella, (2011), some healthcare providers neither understand nor obey the basic principles of aseptic technique and infection control hence leading to outbreak of preventable infections. Similarly, most patients are not aware of their rights and some think that the healthcare provider should never be challenged even when they are on the wrong. The existing policy requires every health care provider to practice safe injection ethics (Ems & Gonzales, 2015). However, refresher trainings for healthcare providers are rare. This means that the above campaign will go a long way in creating awareness and influencing the strengthening of the existing policy by maintaining that as patient safety is being upheld, protection of the healthcare provider should not be overlooked.
Finally, it is important to note that there are still some other agencies that can partner with SIPC and CDC so as to further strengthen the safe injection practices campaign. The World Health Organization (WHO) could be very helpful in providing a framework for a workable policy that will ensure both patient safety and health care provider protection. Another agency that could come in handy is the Safe Injection Global Network (SIGN) which is a charitable organization that aims at promoting the safe use of injections all over the world. Such agencies could use the social media and the impact would be immense.
In conclusion, social media is a very powerful platform for communicating health messages. It is therefore the responsibility of the public, health care providers, employers, patients and governments to identify the most effective social media platforms that can ensure that important health messages such as safe injection policies are reinforced.
Chadwick, A. (2015). The “Social Media” Maneuver. Social Media + Society, 1(1).
Ems, L. & Gonzales, A. (2015). Subculture-Centered Public Health Communication: A Social Media Strategy. New Media & Society, 18(8), 1750-1767.
Freeman, B., Potente, S., Rock, V., & McIver, J. (2015). Social Media Campaigns That Make a Difference: What Can Public Health Learn from the Corporate Sector and Other Social Change Marketers?. Public Health Resource Practice.
Paparella, S. (2011). Safe Injection Practices: Keeping Safety In and the “Bugs” Out. Journal of Emergency Nursing, 37(6), 564-566.
Redman, S. (2015). Communicating Public Health Messages. Public Health Resource Practice.