Health communication at the café
Scott Halperin, an expert in infectious disease and vaccinations, wants to make the public more aware about health communication.
Halperin will be one of three panellists presenting at a Café Scientifique presentation titled "Too Much Information? Public Health Planning & Communication," Wednesday night at Café Istanbul in Halifax. Presenters will describe Canada's current public health communication strategies and the challenges that need to be addressed.
According to a release about the event, experts in health not only have to walk a fine line between providing necessary information during a health crisis and fear-mongering but must also deal with people accusing them of overstating the danger. In addition, when health experts are successful in minimizing the harm, it could appear as if there was no crisis at all.
In the aftermath of the H1N1 pandemic, British Labour MP Paul Flynn accused the World Health Organization of "crying wolf," according to a report in the British Journal of Medicine. Yet the pandemic resulted in many deaths.
Halperin, director of the Canadian Center of Vaccinology, will lead Wednesday's presentation. He said he will discuss the role of experts when it comes to communicating health information to the public.
"Involving the public in the discussion around scientific issues enhances the learning process and results in a more informed public than if one attempts to just provide facts and recommendations," he said in an email to UNews.
Halperin is a professor at Dalhousie University specializing in child health, microbiology and immunology. He is also the head of pediatric infectious eiseases at the IWK Health Centre.
Joanne Langley and Pauline Dakin will join Halperin on the panel, while Françoise Baylis will moderate.
Langley is the associate director of the vaccine evaluation group of the Canadian Center for Vaccinology, a group that evaluates all aspects of vaccination research. She's chair of the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, which is responsible for evaluating and making recommendations about the use of vaccinations. She is also a professor at Dalhousie with a specialty in child health.
Pauline Dakin is a health reporter with CBC. She has won awards from numerous journalistic and health groups across the country.
Baylis is a professor at Dalhousie with a specialty in philosophy and bioethics. She is a researcher and founder of the Novel Tech Ethics Team. She has been a panellist and moderator for Café Scientifique in the past.
Café Scientifique is sponsored by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Halperin, Langley, and Baylis have all received funding from CIHR for their health-related research.