What is one of the biggest challenges global health advocates face?

Preaching beyond the choir. Getting outside the echo chamber.

Perhaps at one point in time, World Malaria Day got people to think about the disease — people who otherwise aren’t aware that malaria kills about 800,000 people each year.

But it’s increasingly difficult to spread messages and reach those folks in an age of information bombardment.

With everyone so neatly focused on their social media niches (global health activists in one corner, artists in their own), social media makes this really tough. But it also presents opportunities. Hey, global health groups could do something along the lines of what Morton’s Steakhouse did for PR expert Peter Shankman.

That’s why I really like what Malaria No More and The Domino Project are doing. Seth Godin, the brilliant marketer who has one of the most fervent followings among many A-list online marketers, explains more on his blog:

Today is End Malaria Day.

Right this minute, right now, please do three things:

  1. Buy two copies of End Malaria, an astonishing new book by more than sixty of your favorite authors. In a minute, I will explain why this might be the most important book you buy this year (not the best book, of course, just the most important one). You should buy one in paperback too so you can evangelize a copy to a colleague.
  2. Tweet or like this post, or email it to ten friends (It only takes a second.)
  3. And, visit the End Malaria Day website and share it as well.

What would happen if you did that? What would happen if you stepped up and spent a few dollars?

Here’s what would happen: someone wouldn’t die.

A child wouldn’t die from malaria, a disease that causes more childhood death than HIV/AIDS.

It’s that direct. Malaria bednets are simple nets that hang over a window or a bed. They’re treated with a chemical that mosquitos hate. The mosquitos fly away, they don’t bite, people don’t get malaria.

Smart self-publishing meets social media done right. We can go back on forth on the tone of Seth’s post and the content of this campaign. But when it comes down to it, I’m seeing people link this in my Twitter feed who never pay attention to global health.

For example, here is a tweet from one of my favorite media writers:


This is how you raise awareness about public health issues in 2011.

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