In 2018, the US State Department’s information sharing program “Mission Mosquito” worked throughout the US to involve communication specialists from countries working on mosquito-borne diseases including Zika, malaria and West Nile virus. The group engaged the public and the private sectors in trainings, presentations and discussions to communicate innovative actions and holistic messaging to increase engagement with diseases like Zika.
Carlos Pineda is a strategic communicator at PSI’s network member in Central America, the Pan American Social Marketing Organization (PASMO). He participated in Mission Mosquito and found the experience particularly transformative. Since returning, Carlos has developed an alliance between the Smithsonian Institution and the Dr. David J. Guzmán National Museum of Anthropology in El Salvador to bring, assemble and open a public exhibit on outbreaks.
Carlos recently wrote a post for the U.S. Department of State’s International Exchange Alumni’s Blog. Check out an excerpt from his piece below, or read the full post here.
Mission Mosquito was a great, professional experience, which continues to influence my life and professional work. During my exchange, I met U.S. health experts who conduct daily research on Zika and other vector-borne diseases. Visiting the U.S Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and U.S. Department of State (DOS) were rare treats. Also fascinating was the opening of the Outbreak – Epidemics in a Connected World exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. It is wonderful to know there are people committed to generating worldwide transformations, which I saw firsthand at the offices of Policy and Public Outreach and International Health and Biodefense at the State Department. These experiences changed my vision of how to approach complicated health issues, and I discovered the key to behavior change is making synergies among everyone in society – institutions and individuals.
I didn’t have a holistic view of public health before the program; nor did I have a clear picture of how to apply communications in a more creative and strategic way. Mission Mosquito helped me to discover the challenges I want to achieve and the level I want to reach as a professional. Meeting people from 19 different countries helped me realize I can relate to anyone in the world culturally; I now have greater confidence in my interpersonal and professional communication skills.
Banner image courtesy of Carlos Pineda