Si Thu Hein has been teaching students about veterinary anatomy at the University of Veterinary Science in Yezin, Myanmar for almost 8 years. Now he is also pursuing his PhD at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand. Si Thu Hein is very proud of his profession, as he believes that vets have an immense impact on human and planetary health.
His counterpart in Cambodia, Dr. Bunna Chea, has been teaching veterinary microbiology and a One Health course at the Royal University of Agriculture in Phnom Penh for over 5 years. He believes that this work is very important because a workforce focusing on food security, public health, and One Health is lacking in Cambodia.
From October to December 2020, Si Thu Hein, Dr. Bunna Chea, and nearly 100 additional lecturers and faculty members from Cambodia, Myanmar, and Lao PDR met virtually during an online risk communication training organized by SEAOHUN in collaboration with Global Team partners from USAID’s One Health Workforce-Next Generation project. The group comprised veterinarians, epidemiologists, doctors, social scientists, and national outbreak response team members.
The topics covered across the 8 training sessions helped participants to not only develop and refine their teaching and technical skills, but also allowed everyone the opportunity to demonstrate their competency in these areas through small and large group exercises.
The post-training survey revealed that participants who previously felt uncomfortable with teaching on-line are now more confident in doing so.
Dr. Karen Saylors: "The most challenging thing about teaching via an online platform is getting people to talk and participate. Speaking out in English is sometimes challenging, especially when participants come from diverse countries. We tried a combination of approaches to help people feel more comfortable: using the Chat Box to express ideas was often a great solution. Sometimes we called upon more advanced English speakers to lead by example and help colleagues feel more at ease about speaking out. Overall, we all learned a lot about communication challenges together!"
Overall, this training greatly improved participants’ confidence for teaching in multidisciplinary team settings and in developing successful risk communication strategies, as demonstrated by the post-training survey.
Dr. Karen Saylors and Dr. Michael Wilkes comment:
"This result was not surprising to us, as we were very impressed with the improvement made by this dynamic group. We learned from each other’s experiences with outbreaks in our different countries, and the diversity of our backgrounds taught us a lot about how to bring our different perspectives to enhance risk communication."
"Collaboration and sharing ideas is fun, and they allow for personal growth. In learning about risk communication, there are core concepts and approaches that should be discussed but there is not one right way to proceed. Creativity, evidence, and brainstorming lead to better outcomes than a top-down approach."
Insight from workshop trainers on the importance of teaching risk communication to faculty members and students from diverse academic backgrounds:
"The One Health approach is by nature multidisciplinary. Faculty members who participated in the risk communication training have expertise in their particular discipline, but our hope was to broaden participants’ vision of a more holistic approach to health emergency response. When a country is dealing with COVID-19 or another epidemic, it is crucial to draw upon a diverse range of disciplines and types of expertise for risk communication to work optimally."
Dr. Karen Saylors, Research Scientist, CEO, and Co-Founder of Labyrinth Global Health, Inc
"Increasingly, health risks are not confined to one population, one geographic area, or one species. We all need to be able to communicate with each other clearly and to understand the complex factors that impact risk – some environmental, some behavioral, some cultural, and some epidemiological. We are all in this together."
Dr. Michael Wilkes, M.W. Professor, General Medicine, Geriatrics, and Bioethics School, University of California, Davis