Waitsfield-based Global Health Media Project has just released an educational animation on cholera for worldwide distribution. The Story of Cholera was produced in collaboration with animator Yoni Goodman.

The film was developed in response to the devastating cholera epidemic that began in Haiti a year ago and will help affected populations around the world better understand cholera and how to prevent it from spreading, according to Deborah Van Dyke, a nurse practitioner at Mad River Family Practice and founder of the Global Health Media Project. “The power of this animation is in making the invisible cholera germs visible, bringing to life the important and easily understood teaching points of cholera prevention,” she said.

There is a tremendous need for public education on cholera transmission and prevention: the World Health Organization (WHO) reports an estimated three to five million cases annually, resulting in more than 100,000 deaths globally. The animated film is available on www.globalhealthmedia.com and is free to download to smartphones and other mobile devices worldwide.

Van Dyke, a longtime aid worker with MSF/Doctors Without Borders, came to recognize the value of video for medical education while developing training materials for health care providers in Afghanistan in 2005. The use of a single brief video caused such excitement among the doctors that she searched for more but could not find any tailored to the realities of the developing world.

A few years later, while leading a medical team in Sudan, she was called to a newborn resuscitation going wrong. She intervened and the baby lived, but she was struck by the realization that video could bring to life this critical procedure in an unforgettable way.

“When coupled with emerging communication technology, this important information could become available to health workers all over the world,” she explained.

Van Dyke launched the Global Health Media Project in 2009 to help bridge this health knowledge gap by using visual media to “bring to life” critical health information for providers and populations. The organization has been hard at work to produce a series of more than 30 newborn care clinical vignettes demonstrating best practices for health workers to improve newborn survival.

The team filmed in the Dominican Republic and Nigeria this year, and post-production is now underway for about one-third of the videos. The first prototype video on placement of a feeding tube in sick newborns is now being field-tested among health workers in Nigeria and reviewed by an international group of content experts.

The organization plans to produce videos on other topics of significant need such as childbirth complications, family planning and minor surgical procedures. The web-based health videos will be free and broadly disseminated, relying on the internet and smartphones to reach across the globe at low cost. The project is a promising initiative that can give health workers access to “just in time” visual clinical guidelines and make a critical difference for health care in low-resource settings.

The nonprofit 501(c)(3) is seeking contributions to pay for direct costs associated with filmmakers in the field and editors in the post-production process. Donations may be made on their website www.globalhealthmedia.org, or by sending a check to the Global Health Media Project, 30 Common Road, Waitsfield, VT 05673.