Dr Srikanta Banerjee is a faculty member at the University of Roehampton, London Online. He has over 15 years of experience in the areas of public health and global health. He has worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the area of infectious diseases, and has worked on public health projects worldwide. Additionally, he has conducted award-winning research in the areas of HIV and chronic diseases. Read how you can become an agent of change and make a difference using his
Change is a powerful tool through which much can be accomplished. Without change, society falls into stagnation and decay. People need to be willing and brave enough to have their voice heard in order to challenge the status quo. Unfortunately, when resources are limited, health expenditure is the first to be reduced. The most vulnerable sub-groups like women, children and minorities are the first to suffer. Using my very own ARISE technique, you can get started on public health change:
Agents of change are the first cadre of individuals to speak out against public health injustices. In order to commence, the recipe for change requires two critical primary components: auto-reflection and redressing a problem. Once you identify these, the rest follows quite naturally.
Believe it or not, the most difficult aspect is knowing where you fit in the grand scheme of things. Start by asking yourself: What are the emotions you feel when you see injustices take place? When the poor and the rich have different health outcomes, how does that make you feel? Write down your emotions on a piece of paper. If your words are charged, then you have found your passion.
Now look for a problem that you are passionate to redress. Perform a quick search on the internet and Google Trends to see what public health topics are being discussed most in your area. If you are passionate about water sanitation, do a search on “water sanitation” in Google Trends and see if this is something that interests people in your country. You can also find the most popular headlines that have been published surrounding the topic.
Once you know that the topic is one that is a good match between your moral values and where you live, you are ready to find out what the numbers reflect. Try to pick one or two profound statistics and memorise them. People like to see that you not only know the facts, but can put them in a way that they can easily understand. For instance, percentages or simple fractions are easier to visualise than an actual number. Imagine that you are the tour guide and you are giving a quick “tour” of the facts that matter most for your public health topic to receive proper funding. If you are passionate about clean water, perform an appropriate Google search and find what UNICEF has to say about water sanitation.
Next, look for the goals that have been created and how close or far your location is from the goals. There are Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), created in 2015 that apply to most causes. For instance, for water sanitation, goal #6 is what applies most closely. This step ensures that your goals are aligned with goals outlined by other established organizations. The act of aligning goals gives credibility to your cause.
Once you have gained all of the facts and have found a cause, emerge with a strong statement. Make a clear, concise one that represents the change you wish to see. Be the change that you wish to see! Use the A-R-I-S-E technique iteratively; in other words, once you have used it the first time, reapply it to fine-tune your statement as you acquire more knowledge. After all, knowledge can be empowering.
Dr Srikanta Banerjee