Field Stories

Online collaborative design process to aid pharmacy in Kenya

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Rick Bennett, Omnium Project

The Omnium Project < www.omnium.edu.au >, a research group based at the College of Fine Arts, The University of New South Wales, Australia in association with the The School of Pharmacy (University of Auckland, New Zealand) will be running a new global collaborative project, Visualising Issues in Pharmacy 2007 (VIP ’07), focussing on the village of Winam in Kenya.

The Omnium Project has garnered several prestigious accolades for its innovative work in e-learning and online creative collaboration both in terms of its own custom interface software as well as approach to developing global projects. It’s founder, Rick Bennett, is widely regarded as one of the foremost experts in the field. Through a series of local and international creative projects, it has linked over 6000 people, in over 40 countries, across five continents. Not limited to the creative arts, however Omnium has even attracted interest from other disciplines, such as genetics and microbiology, and now pharmacy

Pharmacy, design and Kenya

VIP ’07 will foster an international collaborative and fully online classroom based on the previously successful Omnium model. VIP ’07 aims to raise public awareness of six health-related concerns identified as debilitating public health in specific global locations.

The project will culminate in an educational project, VIP ’07 – Developing to Developed, which will be completely free of charge for any student or staff member wishing to take part that is currently undertaking a program with, or employed by, any participating pharmacy institution.

This will occur as specifically written twelve-week curricula between March and June 2007 aiming to raise public awareness of six debilitating public health issues in specific global locations and the subsequent production of written reports and visual design implementations.

Winam in Kenya

The VIP ’07 project has identified the village of Winam in Kenya to focus the collaborative work of both the pharmacist and design participants.

The local population of Winam is commonly affected by malaria, pneumonia, typhoid and tuberculosis. Although basic hospitals do exist in the area, reports show that over 500 patients were abandoned in these hospitals in 2004. Of these, 75% were associated with HIV/AIDS and of these 30% were children under the age of 12.

Reasons for abandonment can be related to the lack of appropriate knowledge within the community to deal with certain health issues. Winam’s hospitals urgently need their patients, staff and community to be educated about the treatment and prevention of disease. They are requesting help in planning community involvement by developing visual campaigns to dispel myths surrounding disease.

The project process

Phase I participants will begin by individually exploring a specific health issue from their own geographic settings and cultural perspective. They will commence to work through these ideas with colleagues in their teams from distant parts of the world, culminating in one common theme.

The project will be developed further in Phase II, investigating these collective ideas in a visual manner. With Phase I participants acting as the “clients”, graphic design students will explore their concepts visually and creatively in order to identify points of commonality and overlapping interests. The final work will encompass the collaborative efforts of diverse cultures and origins across time, distance and disciplines in a truly cross-disciplinary manner.

Creative work will be undertaken through a combination of individual contribution and collaborative group work. A series of creative challenges will be formulated to stimulate this process with the issues posed.

The project will use the unique Omnium Studioª software to facilitate the project in a fully online capacity, as well as acting as a full archive of the entire interaction and project after completion.

Aims of the ‘VIP ’07’ online project

This proposal presents an opportunity for collaboration between pharmacy students and graphic design students from a wide range of universities worldwide. The project forms part of an ongoing series of online education initiatives offered and facilitated by The Omnium Project.

The prospect of producing, coordinating and facilitating such a project not only allows pharmacy students from around the world to find resourceful ways to assist communities in need, but also to develop an association between Health Sciences and Design disciplines. To date, such an initiative has not taken place over distance previously and adds to the complexity and great interest of this venture.

By offering VIP ’07 to students and staff of universities around the world the project aims to realize WHO global initiatives for “Working Together for Health” and align with International Pharmaceutical Federation actions in sustaining the pharmacy profession in developing countries, focusing on topics relevant to professionals in developing, transitional and developed countries.

The Omnium Creative Network

This project also links into the aims of the Omnium Creative Network [OCN] a free and non-profit online global community of creative people (students, professionals, educators, theorists, writers and more) who collaborate in a variety of ways to focus their attention on more socially aware and ethically responsive art and design projects. Launched in Spring 2006, the OCN is fast becoming a rich research resource and information exchange, as well as a place for it’s members to meet people normally out of reach due to geographical or socio-economic situation, with projects starting in Manilla, Kenya, The Philippines and Pacific Islands and Sri Lanka.

For more information please visit: http://www.omnium.edu.au.



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