Global Health and Care Systems Blogs

In a recent OGHCS initiative, students received funding to attend the London Global Health Film Festival, Wellcome Collection, Bloomsbury, 6-7 December 2019. Read reviews of their experiences below:

Dr. Diana Wangari, MBA Candidate.

Why I consider communication to be key in global health interventions

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You never know when reading a book might change your life.
For me one such book was ‘Silent Spring’ by Rachel Carson who is often credited with launching the global environmental movement.
And it was a revelation.

This book told the story of how the indiscriminate use of pesticides, particularly DDT, would in the long run have devastating environmental consequences.
And I was to marvel at the impact the book has had, when I went online to see what others had to say about it.
For Rachel Carson made history by focusing people’s mind on an impending crisis, and provoking a huge response to the crisis. This was an amazing victory for the effective use of narrative.
In my world, this places her in the historic tradition of the African storytellers and seers, of whom I heard so much about from my late grandfather.
In traditional African culture, storytellers were not just custodians of our past: they were considered to be gifted individuals, who could “see with many eyes”; who could see further and more broadly than even the great chiefs.

Such people had great influence, as they were believed to have the power to mould the future – which of course is what Rachael Carson did.
I was reminded of the power of storytelling once again when attending Global Health Film Festival supported by the Wellcome Trust, which featured multi-sectorial narratives from different voices across the globe.

As I watched the film “5B”, the inspirational story of everyday heroes, nurses and caregivers who took extraordinary action to comfort, protect and care for the patients of the first AIDS ward unit in the United States, I was moved to tears and could not help but think this is why, I, as a medical doctor from Kenya woke up everyday.
So many of the diseases that are prevalent in low and middle income countries (malaria, diarrhoea diseases, pneumonia, TB and HIV) can be prevented, at minimal cost. But only if those afflicted or likely to be afflicted understand what is happening to them, and what they need to do.

While watching, “In the Name of Your Daughter”, the inspiring and intimate verity story about some of the bravest girls in the world – children like feisty 12-year-old Rosie Makori who ran away from her home in Northern Tanzania to save herself from female genital mutilation (FGM) and the child marriage her parents had planned for her, I was reminded that storytelling isn’t only about the narrative, it also gives a voice to the voiceless.

In what was a two-day event in central London, the Wellcome Trust’s Global Health Film Festival, served as reminder of the centrality of communication in global health interventions as the end results must necessarily be fundamental, voluntarily undertaken, behavioural change.

Jordan Gorenberg, MPhil Medical Anthropology

The film festival was an incredible experience: a full day watching and discussing movies – what’s there not to love? The theme of this year’s film festival was “Inspiring Change.” This, of course, would take many forms, ranging from climate change to artificial intelligence. The films I enjoyed the most were on mental health. In particular, the film Neighbors, directed by Tomislav Žaja, was my favorite. Based on the Croatian cig Osijek, the documentary follows the lives of people with mental illness, who have spent years in an institution, being re-integrated into the community. Through this process, we see their identities and personalities forming. The film invites viewers to reflect on the way we tend to conceive of and engage with people with mental illness. Unfortunately, as is the case with most film festivals, there were really interesting movies being screen at the same time, forcing me to choose between two films I wanted to see. Needless to say, I’ll be attending next year!

Janina Jochim, DPhil Candidate, Department of Social Policy and Intervention.

Attending the Global Health Film Festival was a great opportunity to participate in an event that I otherwise would not have considered visiting.
Since my DPhil project is undertaken in South Africa, I was particularly excited about the film “Unmasked: We all breathe” which addresses medical professionals’ unexpected risk to contract tuberculosis, their struggles against stigma, and their fight for better medication and care across Sub-Saharan Africa.
It was a nice surprise to find a Virtual Reality Exhibition at a Film Festival in which I learned about the terrifying experiences of the children exploited in Ghana’s gold mines. It was great to see a fellow GTC-student present another form of virtual reality used to provide junior doctors in low- and middle-income countries with training to avoid infant death. Hearing that the activity analyses of the training-apps showed that most junior doctors use the app in the morning hours whilst they are stuck in traffic on their way to the hospital was fascinating. I was amazed by this innovative approach to tackle infant death in a resource-limited setting and these novel immersive technologies will open so many more opportunities in the future. Lastly, we were able to meet one of the film-makers, award-winning Lauren Anders Brown, who was willing to share her insights filming “Womenstruate” (@WomenstruateD) and walk us through some of the key-features of producing a truly impressionable film.

I am very grateful to the GTC Global Health society to provide the funds for this wonderful experience. I will remember this fantastic day — not the least because of the wonderful company of other GTC-students who had also won a ticket from the Global Health System Society.

Christiane Hagel, DPhil Candidate, Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health, Nuffield Department of Medicine

Thanks to the Green Templeton OGHSC I had the great chance to attend the Global Health Film Festival in London on 7 December 2019. I have always been a huge fan of films. The power of films lies in the combination of moving pictures and music/ sound effects at the same time. They have the power to change our perception, to change us, thus to change lives. Attending a film festival that is showing global health related films and productions was really an extraordinary and inspiring experience. The ones I watched were all very powerful and had a huge emotional impact on me. However, Eating Animals was probably the most encouraging one for immediate action. Eating Animals, directed by Christopher Quinn, is a film that was adapted from Jonathan Safran Foer’s critically acclaimed book of the same name, revealing the realities of food factories in modern-day America. The film motivates the viewer to think about our dietary choices and the food we put in our bodies. Through intimate narratives the film promotes critical thinking on the food supply we created ourselves over the last 40 years through our demand: a seemingly endless supply of “cheap” meat, eggs, and dairy, finally leading to the development of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria through the high volume of antibiotics in food-producing animals. In addition to watching the documentaries, the festival was also a great way to meet global health passionate people with different professional backgrounds. During the breaks I had the chance to talk to film-makers, journalists, industry experts, and other researchers. I highly recommend attending the next Global Health Film Festival in London!