Mapping the Health of Communities
While access to quality health information is frequently a focus of attention in efforts to reduce health disparities in underserved communities, the ability to visualize spatial data and information has received less attention. This is in part because the historic scarcity of affordable and intuitive data collection and mapping applications. Additionally, the cost to train users, and sustain operations, has been prohibitive for communities and community-based organizations whose health budgets are already strained. This recognition has prompted the Center for Public Service Communications and its partner Bird’s Eye View, together with the National Library of Medicine (NLM), to develop the Community Health Maps (CHM) initiative.
CHM’s premise is that community-based minority health organizations, environmental health advocacy groups, as well as public health agencies are in a better position to serve their populations when they are able to collect and maintain their own data, rather than relying solely on national or state agencies, or majority-institution partners to provide data to them. CHM has dedicated a number of resources and trainings to train students, teachers, community members, and researchers to empower and utilize these resources.
The CHM approach involves using relatively low cost tablets and smartphone platforms, combined with a selection of low/no-cost applications that run on them for data collection. Data can then be analyzed and presented using low cost/open source software. These tools allow expert and novice users, with little budget resource, to implement mapping workflows. Introducing such workflows to community-based and minority public health professionals empowers users to collect, analyze, display and share their own spatial data. Importantly, many of these tools can also be used to share data collected using other programs, such as ESRI’s ArcGIS and national/state- derived databases such as CDC’s Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and Public Use Data files from National Center for Health Statistics.
Engaging Indigenous Peoples in Disaster Risk Reduction
According to a 2015 report on the State of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, an estimated 370 million indigenous people in some 90 countries worldwide continue to be over-represented among the poorest and most vulnerable segments of society.
CPSC has coordinated initiatives to engage indigenous peoples in disaster risk reduction on behalf of several United Nations agencies.
- United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (ISDR): CPSC organized and chaired the Indigenous sessions at the United Nations Office of Disaster Risk Reduction Global Platforms, Geneva, May 2013 and Cancun,
- Pan American Health Organization: CPSC organized and chaired the Pan American Health Organization’s Hemispheric Consultation on Disaster Risk Reduction in Indigenous Communities 2013.
- United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues: CPSC co-authored a White Paper on Engaging Indigenous Peoples in Disaster Risk Reduction for the 2013 session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. View the White Paper.
- United Nations Office of the High Commission for Human Rights: CPSC was commissioned by the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to prepare a study on the Promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples in disaster risk reduction, prevention and preparedness initiatives.
Health and Disasters: Understanding the International Context
CPSC has developed and conducted courses for the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the Medical Library Association on the international context of health and disasters. View the original course content here.
CPSC has updated the course, which will form part of an interactive curriculum that is currently being developed by NLM’s Disaster Information Management Research Center, in support of their Disaster Information Specialist Program.