Table Salt and Raw Onions: Bridging the Health Communication Gap

I heard my name called, then the excited cheers of my family and friends. Walking across the stage and shaking hands with the College regents, I finally got to the College District President. He leaned towards me and, laughing, asked “Do you want any more chords?” I almost doubled up in laughter! This was the Collin College Spring 2017 commencement ceremony, and I had graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in the field of Communication, bedecked with my Phi Theta Kappa honor society stole, key and chords, as well as the Latin honors chord. So, Dr. Neil Matkin’s question was legit, and my answer would be that I had all the chords I needed for that moment. God blessed me with the grace to pursue my purpose with passion. My joy knew (and still knows) no bounds!

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So, what makes a medical doctor venture into the field of Mass Communication? I’m sure that there are several reasons my colleagues have done so. However, my journey started in 2014, when the world was rocked by the Ebola virus epidemic. As I watched the crisis unfold in several countries in West Africa and in the United States, I was reminded of the huge communication gap between healthcare professionals and the public. There was so much misinformation and disinformation regarding this disease, which led to wrong preventive practices and numerous preventable deaths. The health sector had all the knowledge and expertise, but was helpless in the face of the social media frenzy with recommendations such as drinking and bathing in concentrated table-salt solution and eating raw onions once a day for three days (Gasp!).

This was disturbing to me as a healthcare professional with a duty to save lives, so I started thinking of ways to bridge this communication gap. I was already in Public Health, but it was obvious that we still did not have adequate access to, and control of, the various platforms of mass communication. Consider this. According to the Pew Research Center, 62% of adults in the U.S. get their news from social media sites. The percentage may not be that high in Africa, but in early 2016, Nigeria was reported to have over 15 million active Facebook users. Enough to attract a visit from the CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. How much social media presence does healthcare have? How many health-based television shows do we have on various networks, even in the Western world? How many of them are moderated by healthcare practitioners? Now, how many entertainment shows are there on these networks? And how many are not moderated by people in the industry? Pretty skewed, right?

This is my “Because…” to the “Why?” The reason why I took classes in Radio/Television, Public Speaking, Business and Professional Communication (and loved every minute!), and developed a new appreciation for History, Government, and Literature courses in the last few years, even though I hated the arts in high school! The raison d’être of drsally’sblog – to provide accurate, relevant and up-to-date content on wellness, health and safety to my growing audience, to bridge the communication gap between the healthcare professionals and the public, and to enable people make informed decisions regarding their health. While we’re still a long way off from our destination, I believe in celebrating every milestone.

To God Almighty, “Thank You for everything!” To my super-awesome son, Melvin and to my fantastic family and friends, “Thank you for your love and support on this awesome journey.” To my professors and colleagues at Collin College, as well as my colleagues at Brown Books Publishing Group (where I interned), “Thank you for introducing me to ‘A whole new world. A new fantastic point of view!’

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12 thoughts on “Table Salt and Raw Onions: Bridging the Health Communication Gap

  1. Bianca Pittman

    Congratulations on your graduation and new-found passion!

    Your insights are spot-on! We need healthcare education/mediation now more than ever! There is so much misinformation on the internet, and so many “treatment” recommendations from non-medical professionals.

    There has to be a better way to inform the public and prevent the panic that ensued with the Ebola outbreak. Proper education about the bug, its transmission, and necessary precautions could have saved more lives, in my opinion, and eliminated stigma.

    Great post!

    Like

  2. Charles

    This is a laudable move in a right direction Dr Sally. The Ebola – salt – onion saga really left painful memories​ Nigeria and other African countries. Congratulations and may God enwisdomize you more and more in this direction.

    Like

  3. Chidi

    Wow nice one Doc.. Great move… Great switch in the right direction. Keep up Doc and more glorious moments awaits you ahead.

    Like

  4. Ike Edith

    Congratulations Dr. Sally for this new venture and achievement, I share in your reasons for this passion for communication in health as a healthcare practitioner for effective communication still remains the key to public relations in healthcare.

    Like

  5. Nnamdi

    Lovely sister, a beautiful why ?and the Because… Dr. I see you had it in you long before now. Congratulations for this discovery of personal purpose. Lack of which had left too many people sick, angry, bitter and in some cases untimely death. I am proud of you Dr Sally.

    Like

    1. Julia Ugo-Ezeaba

      Congratulations sis. Sally. You are always focus and on point. May God bless your new found purpose. So proud of you. Woman after God heart.

      Like

  6. Ogo

    Salome, soo proud of you on this great achievement. You have proved yourself as a woman of purpose despite all odds. The Lord who began this good work in you will bring it to a glorious end. Congratulations!!

    Like

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