(PRESS RELEASE) – The U.S. Embassy to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS, in collaboration with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) hosted a Zika TechCamp in Barbados. Sixty participants from the region with backgrounds in public health, media, and the private sector met at the Hilton Barbados Resort for the two-day event.
An initiative of the United States Department of State, the Zika TechCamp is an innovative program that will assist the region in preventing the spread of emerging infectious diseases through the use of new media technologies.
U.S. Ambassador to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean, and the OECS Linda Taglialatela commented, “We anticipate that this TechCamp will provide an open forum to facilitate the strengthening of networks and connections of public health officials and communicators across the Caribbean. It’s important to note that this approach to public health will also leverage the power of social media in a region that has high mobile and internet penetration rates to influence traditional media in communities with limited access to information.”
Ramon Peachey Head of Communications – OECS Commission, said “the Zika tech camp was timely in bringing together health professionals and decision makers from across the region to not only examine the Caribbean’s ever evolving new media landscape but how adoption and industry best practice use of such digital communication platforms could leverage innovative ways to combat the Zika threat.”
He added that the OECS Commission’s Health Unit would be seeking to deepen its engagement with its regional partners to address Zika and that the lessons learned from the tech camp would help manage communication relating to communicable diseases in the Caribbean.
“The OECS Commission applauds the United States Embassy and CARPHA as key health partners for convening the innovative tech camp” said Mr. Peachey. Echoing this sentiment, Dr. Virloy Lewin, Health Promotion Coordinator from Bermuda’s Department of Health, noted that “important take away messages for me from the Zika TechCamp were the importance of having a social media plan to reach your targeted audience; the importance of knowing your audience and having good content on your social media sites. The workshop also provided opportunities for great interaction and hands-on learning.”