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Interview with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders’ Becky Roby for Scientific Day May 25th 2012!

May 21, 2012

MSF Scientific Day 2012 Trailer from MSF on Vimeo.

I was recently contacted by Becky Roby, an intern with Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders in the UK. The guys over at MSF hold an annual Scientific Day, where public health professionals working for MSF and other organizations come together to discuss their research. There’s an agenda available online for you to check out. Their speakers are in the thick of the action, helping people at the grassroots level.

What piqued my interest though is that they are fully embracing social media for their conference. While I have discussed how you can use Twitter at a conference (along with SciCurious), MSF will be livetweeting the conference. They are streaming it online, and you can ask questions on Twitter that the researcher can address in the post-presentation Q&A period.

You can follow along online on their Facebook page, on Twitter @msf_uk or by using the hashtag #MSFSD.

I’m hoping to have a few interviews up this week with people involved with the Scientific Day, so make sure to check back! Today, I’m welcoming Becky Roby to the blog, who is helping organize the Scientific Day.

How big is MSF?

Difficult question, how long is a piece of string? MSF projects open and close all the time. Have a look here for some more details about where we work and what we do.

How long has scientific day been going? 

The first Scientific Day was held in June 2004

What made you think about streaming it online? 

It has come from a general desire to turn research into change. Research is vital if we are to improve the effectiveness of the humanitarian assistance that we provide and to share the lessons that we have learned.  By streaming Scientific Day online we are giving field workers, policy makers and health care professions access to this research. Jonathan Smith makes a good visual representation of the importance of turning research into change (Mr Epid: Remember Jonathan Smith? I interviewed him here, here, and here).

What do you think the role of social media and technology is for public health?

Ever increasing! It seems that technology is powerful tool and can be used in many ways, including GIS mapping and tele-medicine, both these themes are being discussed at Scientific Day. Have a look at last years presentation on Tele-medicine, and also watch Paul Conneally’s talk on digitial humanitarianism (embedded above). Social media plays the important role of giving patients a voice, for example see our TB and Me blog. It also encourages greater discussion, wider empathy and sharing of knowledge.

Registration is currently full – is there any other way people can participate in the Scientific Day? Will there be a liveblog they can follow or an online stream they could use?

We will be live tweeting throughout the event, there will also be a web chat box and twitter feed beneath the main web stream, we will be encouraging our online audience to submit questions to our presenters. There will also be a live twitter Q&A with a presenter during the lunch break.

Thanks Becky!

Check back on Wednesday for an interview with Margriet Den Boer, who worked in Bangladesh on Leishmaniasis, a parasite that is the second leading cause of death after malaria!

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