Washington, September 15, 2011.
Seven months after the start of the first Virtual Risk Communication Certified Course, 17 students from 11 countries in the Americas received certificates for successfully completing the six modules that make up the innovative educational initiative, conducted jointly by Universidad del Norte and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO).
The course, taught through the Virtual Campus of Public Health, is part of the technical cooperation that PAHO provides the countries, and complying with the mandate of the International Health Regulations, which seeks to strengthen national capacities to deal with epidemics and/or public health emergencies that may pose a danger to populations at a national and/or international level.
"Today you have a duty to share what you have learned. It was a great experience for all of us to hear your opinions and see the depth of your work, which you will continue with the goal of improving health conditions in your countries," said Bryna Brennan, general coordinator of the program, addressing participants during the virtual graduation ceremony Wednesday.
Jorge Segovia and Carolina Casullo, Argentina; Gianna Fuentealba, Chile; Xinia Maria Fernandez of Costa Rica, and Rodolfo Reyes, Gabriel Montalvo, Cuba; Marcial Bonilla, Ecuador; Lucero Rodriguez and Ljubica Latinovic, Mexico; Aida Mercedes Soto, Nicaragua; Patricia Lima Pereira, Paraguay; Edwin Napanga, Juan Carlos Arrasco and John Castro Varillas of Peru; Maria Serrana Rubini, Uruguay; Glenda Rincon and Edison Armando Vivas, Venezuela, received diplomas, highlighting their ability to design and implement risk communication strategies and to coordinate the management of communication during emergencies and crises.
"The big challenge for PAHO and WHO, and for all of us, is to make known, and share the richness of this project, so that each of our countries and our ministries can increasingly appreciate the benefits of communication in general and in particular risk communication," said María Serrana Rubini, participant of the 2011 course.
The Virtual Risk Communication Certified Course is aimed at communicators and health professionals from the Ministries of Health, other public sector institutions at the national and local levels that are related to health and disasters, as well as nonprofit organizations, including the United Nations. Participants also can come from the educational sector in communications.
"We thank the team of instructors, technical and administrative personnel who have accompanied us during the months of preparation and implementation of this educational experience. The course has formed an elite group of professionals who now have the ability to develop risk communication strategies to effectively respond to all emergencies in public health that may arise in the Region. The challenge will be to measure the impact that this experience will have on your professional work in your institutions and countries," said Jesus Arroyave, academic coordinator of the virtual course.
This training initiative began in February 2011 on the Virtual Campus of Public Health thanks to an agreement between PAHO/WHO and the Universidad del Norte (Barranquilla, Colombia), with funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the Government of Canada, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The 2012 version will soon be open for applications from those wishing to be part of the 60 participants who will be selected for the second cohort.