Hashtags for Global Health: How To Use Twitter to Celebrate Health Workers

On Monday April 7, the global health community celebrated World Health Day and kicked off the second annual World Health Workers Week.

People often take the presence of doctors and nurses for granted. But the world’s poorest countries face a shortage of one million frontline health workers. Across Africa, there are only two health workers for every one thousand people. Across the globe, one billion people have little to no access to skilled health workers.

The health worker shortage leaves millions of women vulnerable to fatal complications during pregnancy and childbirth and millions of children vulnerable to treatable diseases. That’s why frontline health workers are absolutely critical to improving global health, especially reducing maternal and infant mortality.

Our client Johnson and Johnson Global Health held a Twitter chat with their partners to celebrate the great work health workers are doing on the ground and to raise awareness of the need for more investment and training.

So what is a Twitter chat (or Tweet chat) and how does it work? In its simplest form, a Twitter chat is just a conversation on Twitter about a particular topic using an agreed upon hashtag.

I LOVE Twitter chats. They are a great platform for convening stakeholders to share knowledge and stories and they are a great tactic for reaching a broader audience with your message. And of course, they’re just really fun.

For this chat, Johnson & Johnson convened some of the greatest advocates for health workers in the field, groups like Jhpiego, the Frontline Health Workers Coalition, USAID, AMREF Health Africa USA, and the list goes on.

Johnson & Johnson moderated the chat, posing important questions facing health workers. What challenges do they face in the field? How can the global health community train new health workers? And most importantly, Johnson & Johnson and the participants took the time to share incredible success stories of midwives who save lives and programs that train new health workers.

The chat was a great success. Over 1500 tweets used the chat hashtag, garnering over 1.7 million impressions, and oh yeah, we TRENDED in DC!

I know you’re sad you missed it, so we summarized the chat with a Storify!

But before you leave me, let me share the most important takeaways from the chat.

  • We must do more to train and equip health workers so that they can reach the one billion people without access to skilled medical care.
  • We should learn from the current programs in place to support and train health workers on the ground.
  • Closing the health worker shortage is a work in progress, but it’s important to stop and celebrate the incredible men and women who save lives every single day.

You can do your part to raise awareness by using the hashtags #healthworkers and #healthworkerscount.