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How can we promote more active dialogue on malaria?

September 10, 2018 - 13:27 -- William Jobin

Dear colleagues,
As you probably do, I eagerly check MalariaWorld almost every day, and when I have something to contribute, post a blog or comment. But I am disappointed by the lack of responses to my contributions, or to those from all of you. How can we improve this?
Since almost 10,000 people are connected thru MalariaWorld, we might make real progress if we can all contribute. I want to end malaria sooner, not later. Do you agree?
Bill Jobin

Comments

Submitted by Miles Markus on

Don’t know what the answer is to "How can we improve this?" Both Bart Knols and Ricardo Ataíde have speculated on the site re the paucity of postings (and multiple possible reasons why people don’t contribute come to mind). You might recall, Bill, that Bart suggested that individuals who hesitate to comment could do so anonymously. It seemed like a good idea; subject to censoring by MalariaWorld if people were to take advantage in an antisocial way.

Submitted by Emmanuel NforNfor on

I have attended many malaria conferences and have come along with the impression that we talk of malaria more in theory, that is, more of research which takes place inside laboratories and test tubes. Funding too is directed to research networks and very little or no funding goes to implementation. Malaria control and prevention programs hardly have funding and opportunities to exchange ideas and just talk of the day-to-day experiences with patients especially those in rural communities. Their stories are not often told mostly because research networks are not with them often. They come collect samples and go leaving them with their plight. I work with an organization that has over 100 rural-based community sites and themes or sub-themes for conferences hardly have concerns from this direction. We can have a lot to talk about if major themes of conferences come from this rural experiences and implementation of research results.

Submitted by Peter Billingsley on

Bill:

The 10,000 people metric is probably not the best to use as it reflects a lot of people who do not or would not ever engage, plus people working in very different parts of the malaria research spectrum. Much as we love MalariaWorld, most of us do not have the time to check it almost every day, and when we do, the discussion topics are not that hot or relevant at times. This is particularly the case when a subject or blog is just thrown out into the 10,000 and hope that it catches the interest.

One suggestion is to prime a group of people for a more interactive blog session. Pull together people of different opinions that are in the same area of work but perhaps of differing opinions about where that area is headed, and get them to be ready to contribute over a short period, say 2 weeks max.

Just a thought.

Pete

Pete Billingsley - Sanaria Inc

Submitted by Robin Stephens on

It's amazing that we are 10,000 here! I have had the same problem with interactions online in my own small attempts to keep people together. I wonder if Bart Knowls could let us know how he recruited so many, and ideas for us to amplify interaction with this site using those same methods? Maybe we can help MalariaWorld by doing publicity at more meetings.

Another suggestion would be that the site include a place specifically for forums in each field, where exciting papers in each field can be highlighted (with help from Research Gate, RSS from journals, or google scholar?), and folks can discuss implications etc. and blogs in each field could be localized. That would likely bring me here more often, as an immunologist, I can say that this is not where I think to come discuss (actually, there is no place I can think of yet). Happy to participate in such an effort, if a good idea pops up from this discussion that people think will work.

A good collection of courses and conferences in malaria in general and each field would also be really helpful.

Thanks MalariaWorld!
Robin

William Jobin's picture
Submitted by William Jobin on

What a pleasant surprise, to get so many encouraging responses ( four, to be exact) to my original blog of 10 Sept. Do I see a thread about dividing MalariaWorld into more narrow interest groups? Or would that defeat the purpose?

William Jobin Director of Blue Nile Associates

Bart G.J. Knols's picture
Submitted by Bart G.J. Knols on

Thanks, Bill. You are bringing forward an issue that has been bugging me for years - the absence of dialogue in the global malaria community. This was one of the very reasons we set up MalariaWorld in 2009.

It is not that we have no ideas - there are many - on what we could do to improve dialogue. It is more that we have not been successful to generate funding to do so. And yes, this is not a secret, we run the entire service on a budget of 15 thousand dollars per year. You can imagine what we could do with 100 thousand per year!

Frankly, sometimes we despair, seeing that on Fridays when we send out the newsletter we get lots of visits to the site, but that is where it stops.

I would certainly encourage members to pose more ideas (as Markus, Pete, and Robin mention), so that hopefully our anniversary will not be a small affair...

Best wishes,
Bart

Submitted by Chang Jaime on

A tricky question. Some bullets regarding dialogue -as referred to here- based on my experience:
- It will not occur involving too many people at the same time. Larger numbers usually lead to a lower participation.
- It is better to have an specific subject, and it is convenient to define the scope of the dialogue, so participants can be selected or self-select in such a way that leads to active engagement.
- The subject should be of actual common interest to participants to be.
- Most conferences are not primarily designed for dialogue, so they are a reference but not a model.
- It helps to have a strategic approach (i.e. not just launch an e-forum), including follow-up.
- Many of us are still learning to use digital platforms for dialogue (we are better using them for one way communication, either emitting or receiving).
- Have realistic expectations.
- Consult communications experts while organizing ambitious "dialogue" events.