The Public Health Ministry and the Pan-American Health Organisaion/World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) are working to re-draft the National Communication Strategic Plan for the health sector during a two-day consulting exercise at the Marriott Hotel, Kingston.Communications Specialists, Kevin Cook and Leticia Linn from PAHO, Washington DC are spearheading the exercise.PAHO’s Communications Specialist from Washington DC, Kevin CookThe Public Health Ministry had drafted a National Communication Strategic Plan in 2012, but this was never implemented. Ministry officials have been seeking, since last year, to redraft and implement a plan that can provide vital health care information to the public.Addressing the gathering at the opening of the consultation, Cook indicated that the importance of health communication has never been more of a priority as it is today. He highlighted PAHO’s strategy towards successful and effective health information and communication in the Americas.“Well-formulated health communication, coupled with community engagement efforts was absolutely critical to saving lives.”Minister within the Public Health, Dr Karen Cummings said that the establishment of health literacy through health promotion is essential to realising positive public health outcomes.“Health communication is an essential component of any public health programme. This vital component provides a vehicle for the transmission of messages to targeted audiences on a number of issues that can result in the creation of health awareness and the development of the embryonic stages of health literacy.”Also, PAHO/WHO’s country representative to Guyana, Dr William Adu-Krow said that effective communication is a prerequisite to bridge gaps that exist in communicating health information.“Globally, whether we want to maintain and improve health, contain immediate public health crisis or respond appropriately, the messages we send and receive are critical to creating better health for us all.” Dr Adu-Krow said.The objectives of an effective health communication strategy is to provide health information by using understandable language; to provide methods that can be easily accessed by population; to enhance the ability of healthcare providers to interact with individuals and to develop a system for management and delivery of health materials developed.
That changed in the 1990s, when the National Day of Prayer Committee established a task force to help coordinate activities across the country and connected it with Colorado’s Focus on the Family. The conservative group, led by James Dobson, took charge of the day, then insisted that all participants adhere to its “Judeo-Christian” theological tenets. A participant must “be an evangelical Christian who has a personal relationship with Christ … and acknowledge that I am working for the Lord Jesus Christ and the furthering of his work on Earth.” Three years ago, the task force, now led by Dobson’s wife, Shirley, caused an uproar in Utah by saying that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Seventh-day Adventists, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus would not be allowed to pray at any of the services it sponsors. The exclusions still apply, which is why Chaplain Linda Walton has helped organize an alternative service for National Prayer Day at the Provo LDS Tabernacle. Some faiths do not say traditional prayers but may meditate on deity, Walton says. “Some will stand up, hold their arms up, lay on their bellies, whatever. We are going to continue to support everyone’s ability to do that.” • Photo Gallery: Day of Prayer Thursday’s National Day of Prayer was once a symbol of American unity and faith in God that transcended boundaries. In recent years, though, the decades-old tradition has become mired in divisions. Across the nation, most celebrations are organized by and for evangelical Christians, with others choosing to host alternative services. Believers in Muncie, Ind.; Oklahoma City; Troy, Mich.; Salt Lake City and more have added more inclusive events, with participation across the spiritual spectrum. The holiday began in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked Americans to pray for guidance as it was trying to birth a nation. Abraham Lincoln called for a day of fasting and prayer in 1863. Nearly a century later, Harry Truman made it an annual event, and in 1988, Ronald Reagan set aside the first Thursday in May so citizens could join in worship across all religious boundaries. Walton, a Seventh-day Adventist, has been helping with this kind of interfaith prayer service for a decade. Mormons have been included among the organizers, but this is the first time it has been in an LDS setting with a high-ranking LDS official speaking. “We’ve rotated it around to all different denominations,” she says. “It’s time for the LDS to have their turn.” The Rev. Gregory Johnson of Standing Together, a joint ministry of Utah evangelical clergy, has no problem with the alternative service – and may even attend – but he defends the task force’s approach. “Our events are led by evangelicals, but the public is welcome,” says Johnson, who coordinated several evangelical-only services in Orem and Salt Lake City. “We have no desire to offend or hurt people’s feelings, but it’s important to pray with others who share the idea of who God is.” By most measures, the National Day of Prayer Task Force’s efforts have been successful. In 2005, it claimed more than 50,000 “prayer events” nationwide and had an annual budget in excess of $2 million, according to a report by the Texas Freedom Network, a religious liberties watchdog group in Austin. “They’ve hijacked what was supposed to be an opportunity for all Americans of all faiths to pray for the country,” said Dan Quinn, communications director for the Texas Freedom Network. “In a time of crisis that we are in right now, wouldn’t it be better to ask for guidance on how to pull Americans of all faiths together?” [email protected] (801) 257-8725. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!