Addressing Serious Health Conditions Abroad

Health communication projects focus on AIDS, malnutrition, and other illnesses.

Coral Gables (March 04, 2013) — With malnutrition claiming the life of one in ten infants a day in parts of South Africa and HIV/AIDS killing thousands of people in other parts of the world, two University of Miami School of Communication professors are partnering with graduate students to address these serious health conditions, as well as others such as diabetes and obesity.

Strategic Communication Assistant Professor Sunny Tsai and Communication Studies Associate Professor Victoria Orrego are engaging in two health communication projects on these topics in South Africa and Guatemala, respectively, with the help of doctoral students Candy Yang and Jasmine Phillips.

The Knight Center for International Media at the School of Communication is partnering on the projects and will track their progress on its website.

Tsai and Yang are collaborating with faculty and graduate students at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, to conduct field research that will lay the groundwork for a pilot campaign to address issues around malnutrition, diabetes, and particularly obesity in the local township community. The goal is to create accessible and sustainable community-based interventions to counter rising obesity rates and other related diseases.

Orrego and Philips are conducting an exploratory project in Santiago, Guatemala, designed to promote accurate HIV/AIDS knowledge and increase prevention behaviors among the indigenous youth in Santiago Atitlan. The project will assess the current status and capacity of HIV/AIDS intervention activities at the community level and identify partner organizations for the development of a sustainable HIV/AIDS prevention communication campaign in Santiago. The team will also obtain qualitative data exposing underlying knowledge, attitudes, and opinions about HIV/AIDS among young adults in the Santiago Atitlan village.

Orrego and Phillips want to engage and collaborate with many local individuals, as they are taking a culturally tailored and participatory community approach to HIV/AIDS health prevention. Phillips and Yang are recipients of a School of Communication award that allows them to work on these projects while being mentored by faculty.

For more information on Tsai and Orrego, click here. For more information on Yang and Philips, click here.


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A young child in South Africa sips his one daily meal. United Nations data shows that almost 22 percent of South African households have insufficient or severely insufficient access to food.

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