Welcome to Hannah Brennan, newest member of the Poo Crew
The DefeatDD and Take On Typhoid teams are excited to have a new teammate: Hannah Brennan, our new Communications Associate. She didn’t run away after seeing Poo Guru and DefeatDD’s technicolor toilet during the PATH office tour, so we think she’s here to stay.
There’s nothing like new staff to help bring fresh perspectives to our issues, so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pick her brain for her initial impressions.
Q: What did you know about global health/public health before joining PATH?
I must start by mentioning that I did not study global health/public health in school; I studied communication and political science. My interest in the field of global and public health came through personal interest and advocacy. I contributed to various campaigns for mental health initiatives and did quite a bit of research into the problem of maternal mortality in Washington, DC. Throughout my work, I have come to learn that structural inequity is everywhere, and not everyone has the same opportunity to be healthy due to numerous barriers standing in the way of basic care. Over time, advancing health equity has become a personal mission and I want more than anything to make an impact in helping marginalized communities across the globe. All of this led me to PATH where I plan to make these dreams become reality.
Q: In your first weeks, you have been an information sponge. What have you found intriguing/surprising about diarrheal disease/typhoid?
Learning about the science and technical side of PATH’s work has been a welcome challenge. The research and information available can be overwhelming at times, but I have found that there is no better way to learn than jumping into the deep end. Being a perennial student has fueled my drive to absorb as much information as I can, but I know there will be a continuous learning curve. What really peaked my interest about diarrheal disease and typhoid is that fact that they are easily preventable, yet they are still HUGE public health threats. It is so frustrating to think that people in hard-to-reach communities are suffering from these diseases because of a lack of resources and support. The knowledge that the problem of these diseases can be prevented with vaccines and WASH (safe water, sanitation, and hygiene) tells me progress is within reach and attainable. With advocacy and partnerships between international entities like PATH and country-level advocates, I believe we can make real change.
Q: We’ve given you a megaphone that can reach the ears of every single policymaker. What is one thing you want them to know about diarrheal disease/typhoid?
If I had one of these magical megaphone’s I would start by saying that VACCINES WORK! Vaccines have the potential to save thousands upon thousands of lives each year from enteric diseases like diarrhea and typhoid. I have done a fair share of research into vaccine hesitancy, and I know new things can be scary. Fortunately, there is extensive research proving how the science and care behind vaccine technology are effective tools for protecting people around the world.
Q: What are you most looking forward to in the year ahead?
The thing I am looking forward to most is seeing progress made as a result of PATH’s advocacy. Working in communications can be tricky in that measuring success is hard to gage. Do we define success by the number of likes on a post or the amount of engagement on a blog? I am hoping that in creating messaging and pushing for global health action that I will get to witness change at the country level. To see a different countries implement a vaccine or roll out a sanitation campaign as a result of DefeatDD and Take on Typhoid’s advocacy would truly be a dream come true.