22/04/16

Po-faced presentations don’t change thinking

solar_system

I’ve just emerged from three days buried in a bunker at the Geneva Health Forum, which focuses on health in lower income countries. There was a great cartoonist, but otherwise it was all quite po-faced: power-point presentations, incomprehensible posters and much thanking of sponsors. LOTS of rather earnest, mostly white people suffered from the Public Health Fallacy: the idea that if only they had the (technical) evidence, all governments would do the best thing for their poorest and most neglected. Despite all of the (historical, political, social) evidence (.pdf) that the poorest and most neglected mostly get, well, neglected by those that govern them.

I propose adding this to the evidence base: po-faced conferences with power point presentations to an audience that has seen them all before do not generate new ideas about inequality in health. And I propose trying something different: let’s put the technical evidence up against the historical, political and social evidence in a piece of music, and see what gets drowned out.

Does that sound crazy? Maybe. Will it change the world? Of course not. Will it allow us to think a bit more creatively than another powerpoint presentation in a bunker conference? Probably. Will it be a lot of fun? Certainly!

Come along tomorrow, Saturday April 23, and add your voice to the project, which we’re calling Song of Contagion. (It’s supported by the Wellcome Trust, and most of what they support turns out pretty well.) We’re meeting in Hackney, East London, to begin to decide which diseases to songify, and what, besides the technical evidence, we should be adding to the musical mix. The fact that the Minister of Health’s wife owns a Pharma company, maybe? We didn’t hear THAT at the Geneva Health Forum…

If you’re wondering about the illustration, I was in Geneva to discuss with colleagues how we might turn the asteroid field of public health data sharing into a nice, tidy solar system. Right now, if you played public health data sharing in music, it would sound so cacophonous that many people would just switch it off. To turn it into a symphony, we need to appoint someone to act as conductor, and start investing in more players in the orchestra. But that’s a whole separate post…

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This post was published on 22/04/16 in Pisani's picks.

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