Social Media Saves Lives and Makes the World Better

A screenshot from the Twitter account of Vice Chancellor Dr. Agnes Binagwaho during her time as Minister of Health of Rwanda.
During her time as Minister of Health of Rwanda, Vice Chancellor Dr. Agnes Binagwaho launched a series of online discussions through Twitter on topics related to global health policy and Rwanda’s national health sector. Twitter users from around Rwanda and the world joined her in these biweekly discussions. Photo courtesy Bending the Arc/ Impact Partners.

Social media is not just for fun, socializing, and commerce. Recent innovations, such as how conversations on Twitter have advanced the debate about global health, the use of Twitter and Facebook to register the satisfaction of medical patients, and many others, should change our preconceptions. More and more, these digital platforms are showing their value as vital agents in communication, saving lives, and serving as vehicles for advocacy and campaigning. It is leading to more efficacy and efficiency in human development and in global health. Such platforms facilitate health management, the exchange of ideas on a global scale, and improve the outcomes of actions as practitioners, experts, and ordinary people share experiences.

Historically, across the world, a person in a rural setting would likely not have had a tool with which he or she could communicate beyond the local community’s borders. They would not have had the opportunity to join global health discussions; too many geographic, social, and financial barriers would have stood in the way. And even in urban locations, conversations about global health have traditionally occurred in vertical silos: academic, government, among NGOs, in the private sector, or local communities.

But today, increasingly popular social media platforms are slowly penetrating even the most rural areas in the developing world. Where the Internet is available, communication is becoming more transparent and cost-effective than ever before. It has empowered individuals and has begun to erode such silos. Citizens now have the ability to reach out and engage directly with members of their local and central government, expert technicians in charge of programs which may concern them, and national or international figures with whom they wish to correspond.

[Read the full article at Techonomy ]