HealthSpace.Asia: Connecting through Social Media

HealthSpace.Asia is an innovative social media site for advancing health by bringing together Asian scientists, academics, and NGO and government leaders around a common platform for sharing information, exchanges, and joint activities. Started by Dr. Piya Hanvoravongchai of Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, HSA has now enrolled nearly 1,000 participants. The site share news on recently completed and upcoming activities, provides information on major health issues in Asia, and posts job openings. With start-up funds from a small group of core foundations (CMB, Rockefeller Foundation, IDRC, and Atlantic Philanthropies), the social media platform is operated by volunteers and part-time workers from Asia, mostly based in Bangkok.  HSA is a promising experiment to determine the potentiality of social media in advancing health.

HealthSpace.Asia acts a virtual forum for information sharing across borders especially among mid-level and younger health professionals for ideas and models in health policy and research. Piya was inspired by the opportunities afforded by social media. "My idea for HealthSpace.Asia is that an online social platform can promote collaboration and networking among health policymakers and researchers in the region, with a particular focus on building the capacity of younger professionals. It lets us quickly and easily share information—such as an interesting blog post on a current health issue, or news about jobs or an upcoming conference—and start a conversation with our peers."

Social media is a new tool, but Piya sensed that health professionals in the region would make use of the new platform. "We know people in Asia are receptive social media—China alone has almost 400 million users of CHinese social media sites, such as Sina and Tencent weibo." In fact, HealthSpace.Asia now has over 1000 members from 50 countries. Members come from various disciplines but have a common interest in improving health in the region. Our frequently visited pages include health-related events, research funding opportunities, calls for papers, job opportunities, and blogs." The community is open to all to join in the discussion.