The blog of Burness Communications

Conversations in Development: On the front lines in the fight against tuberculosis

Tuberculosis (TB), an infectious disease that kills 1.4 million people per year, has existed since the time of the pharaohs. Organizations like the TB Alliance and Aeras are working on new technologies to fight the scourge of this ancient and deadly foe.

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The “New Normal” for Reaching Your Audience

Getting a story in the highly influential New York Times has always been viewed as the Holy Grail of communications.  But as NPR’s Ari Shapiro reported recently on Morning Edition, the quickly shifting media environment and the ever-multiplying channels of communications have forced communicators to be much more strategic and thoughtful about how to engage the right audiences.  What that means for  public relations professionals is that legacy media like the Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and others – while still critically important – are not the only game in town, and in fact, may not always be the first outlets you target to communicate your message.  

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Conversations in Development: A young Zambian woman on the value of education

In Zambia, a country where only 21 percent of girls and 27 percent of boys attend high school, student Patricia Nanyangwe discusses her family, her aspirations and the critical role of education in her community. With the help of the African Education Program, a nonprofit founded by Burnesser Julie-Anne Savarit-Cosenza, Patricia and hundreds of other Zambian students are getting the support they need to excel in high school and beyond.

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"Going for it": An update on Burness' Nairobi Office

In a few weeks, I’ll be flying to Nairobi to officially begin my position as the new Director of BurnessGlobal’s Nairobi Office.

I’m thrilled that Burness is returning to Nairobi—where we’ll continue the work we’ve been doing with groups based in and doing work across Africa. Only now, we’ll be closer to the organizations we’re working with and the people we’re ultimately working for—from smallholder farmers struggling to feed their families in the face of a changing climate to the young girls in Nairobi’s Kibera slum seeking a good education so they can climb out of poverty.

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Suburban poverty: A phenomenon that’s more common than you might think

My wife and I recently moved to one of the country’s wealthiest suburban areas – Montgomery County.  For us, along with many Americans, a move to the suburbs symbolized the promise of better schools and safer neighborhoods.  But the offer of “a better life in the suburbs” is quickly evaporating for many people who now live here.  Despite its reputation, a growing number of people who reside in this wealthy county just 20 miles outside the nation’s capital are poor and struggling.  In fact, no other county in the Washington D.C. region, including the District of Columbia, has experienced increases in poverty of the same magnitude as Montgomery County.    

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Signs of Progress Toward Reversing the Childhood Obesity Epidemic

Last December, we noted that some cities and states have begun to measure declines in their childhood obesity rates. As The New York Times put it then, these declines “offer the first indication that the obesity epidemic, one of the nation’s most intractable health problems, may actually be reversing course.”

On July 9, more than 250 people gathered in the gym of the National Capital Y in Washington, D.C., to hear from leaders representing four states and five cities or counties recording declines in their childhood obesity rates.

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Introducing Conversations in Development

BurnessGlobal introduces a new monthly series called Conversations in Development to feature interviews with fascinating people we have known or worked with over our 20+ years in the development space. Through these interviews, we’ll share fresh perspectives on a variety of issues, from agricultural development to global health to forestry, and hopefully spark a dialogue about the top development priorities in the world today.

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A Model for Medical Education & Care Management Expands

Ten years ago, an estimated 28,000 men and women were infected with hepatitis C throughout the state of New Mexico, but only 1,600 were getting treatment. Statewide, only two clinics, in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, had the expertise to treat patients with hepatitis C. Dr. Sanjeev Arora, a liver disease specialist at the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (UNMHSC) in Albuquerque, found this gap intolerable, especially since the knowledge to treat Hepatitis C existed. There was no reason patients had to be going months, sometimes years, without seeing a specialist to care for their condition.

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How Healthy Is Northern Virginia?

A new report from the Northern Virginia Health Foundation (a Burness client) tells us that residents of Northern Virginia may not be as healthy as you think.  For example:

  • Over one million adult residents are obese or overweight;
  • Almost one in four adults and one in five children are going without dental care;
  • One in four youth show early warning signs of depression; and
  • One in five adults – more than 340,000 people – are at risk for binge drinking.

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Dialing back on the drivers of global disease outbreaks: A look inside the ‘black box’

A new report on the ‘causes of causes’ of H7N9 and other diseases that are emerging in animals and jumping species—into people

This blog was originally posted to the ILRI News Blog.

The deadly H7N9 bird flu virus in China and the spread of a SARS-like coronavirus in the Middle East continue to make headlines. H7N9 has killed 35 people  in China and 20 have lost their lives to the novel coronavirus—which has spread from Saudi Arabia to the UK, France and Germany.

Two opinion editorials in the New York Times this month, The next contagion: Closer than you think and The next pandemic: Not if, but when, correctly warn us about the potential global spread of these killer diseases. They call for more awareness of the dangers of zoonotic (animal-to-people) diseases, faster identification of animal sources of the pathogens and better vaccines to protect us against them. All of those are indeed needed.

But like much of the mainstream press, neither article mentions the root cause of these emerging infectious diseases, that is, the conditions that make zoonoses likely to arise in the first place and then help turn them into lethal pandemics.

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