The National Public Health Information Coalition (NPHIC) has announced that the Virgin Islands Department of Health has been recognized in a national competition honoring excellence in public health communication, according to a press release issued on Tuesday by the V.I. Department of Health.
“We are extremely proud that the premier nationwide voice of public health communication has recognized our work,” said Dr. Mercedes K.C. Dullum, acting health commissioner. “After all, public health is all about preventing illness and injury, and that means educating people to help them understand and reduce their individual health risks.”
DOH earned a Silver Award in the Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication category for its “Fight the Bite Dengue Fever Education Campaign” which was aimed at getting residents to recognize that dengue fever prevention is not just the responsibility of the government but everyone.
Dengue fever contributes to more morbidity and mortality among humans than any other vector-borne viral disease and in the Virgin Islands, three of the four dengue virus serotypes (Dengue-1, Dengue-2, and Dengue-4) are known to have caused disease outbreaks. In 2010, the Department of Health found itself dealing with the second dengue fever epidemic in five years. Thus, in addition to its standard press release on dengue fever alert to coincide with the hurricane season, the campaign’s aim was to also get residents to recognize that dengue epidemics can be like hurricanes — they are recurrent and seasonal, can be deadly, and given the alarm signals, they are to prepare to avoid dengue fever risks in much the same way.
Dr. Dullum praised the Public Health Preparedness Division for its in-house produced campaign — a combination of press releases, print, broadcast and web-based ads in English and Spanish, as well as paraphernalia emblazoned with the message “Fight the Bite.” Some radio ads were timed to coincide with cultural events such as V.I. Carnival, using a favorite saying that “Rain don’t stop the Carnival, but it does make it ripe for dengue.”
NPHIC is the leading national organization for public health communication professionals. NPHIC’s ranks include public information officers, risk communicators and health educators at state, tribal and local health departments across the country. As the recognized voice of public health communication, NPHIC’s award program offers gold, silver and bronze awards in more than a dozen public health communication categories.