Bolstering Health Communication in Pakistan Health Services Academy and Johns Hopkins sign MoU

January 29, 2015

 Bolstering Health Communication in Pakistan    
Health Services Academy and Johns Hopkins sign MoU

Islamabad, January 29, 2015 :-  A Memorandum of Understanding was signed here today by Health Services Academy Islamabad and John Hopkins University Centers for Communication Programs to bolster capacity building in the area of health communication in Pakistan.   Director General Health and head of Health Services Academy Dr. Assad Hafeez and Susan Krenn, Executive Director John Hopkins University Centre for Communication Program signed the MoU. Minister for National Health Services Saira Afzal Tarar witnessed the signing ceremony on behalf of Government of Pakistan.   Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said Health Education and Promotion is a key to improved lives all over the world and Government of Pakistan is committed to take all steps to improve health and lives of the people of Pakistan. Among other challenges faced by our country, promoting positive health behaviors is one huge challenge, and behaviors can only be changed through effective communication and education. I thank and congratulate USAID, Johns Hopkins University and Health Services Academy for the commendable effort that will go far and enable our people in performing with added excellence in the field of health.”   She said in Pakistan, with growing realization of the importance of communication in public health, almost all the health promotion and prevention programs have been including social and behavioral communication into their programming. However, the lack of trained resource in health communication has been repeatedly highlighted as a prevailing gap in the system. Other countries with similar situation have addressed their challenges through evidence-based strategies including those involving advocacy and communication.  Health Communication scholarships in these countries have advanced both theory and practice in different areas of public health including public health promotion, environmental health, health policy, and global health.   Earlier in his welcome remarks Director General Health and head of HSA Dr. Assad Hafeez said this was a landmark initiative as an institution of global standing, John Hopkins University and a premier public health institution of the country were entering into an agreement to promote an area of public health which required special focus. He said the capacity building program in health communication, the first of its kind in public sector would fill the void and allow for faculty exchange between the two institutions alongwith initiation of joint research in the area.         “Health Communication is not a part of public health, but it is public health” said Dr. Zaeem ul Haq, the Senior Technical Adviser, MCH Program and Lead Course Facilitator. “Bringing health communication to academics was a dream that is realized today with very kind support of Dr. Assad Hafeez. I would like to thank him and USAID for their tremendous support. This is important step which will surely lead us to a healthier, safer and brighter Pakistan”   “I am very excited to be present in Pakistan and on launch of the academic course on Health Communication,” said Susan Krenn, Executive Director Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs. “I thank the Government of Pakistan, Health Services Academy and USAID for their tremendous support in making this possible.”   Designed to improve health outcomes for women and children, Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs under USAID’s flagship Pakistan maternal and child health program (MCH) successfully concluded the first Academic training on Health Communication in Pakistan, on January 29, 2015. The program was launched on January 19th and was held for two weeks at the Health Services Academy, Islamabad. The training was attended by participants from local Public Health institutions and Department of Health, Sindh.