Sharing urgent health information across borders and languages
Dr. Nelya Melnitchouk didn’t set out to become a YouTube creator. But watching the tanks roll into the streets of her home country of Ukraine, she knew that she needed to do something to help. So pulling from her expertise as an oncology surgeon based at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, a member of Mass General Brigham, she set out to empower both healthcare professionals and civilians with the ability to save lives in real time.
“When the war started, my husband and I brainstormed about what we could do to help. From speaking to physicians on the ground in Ukraine, we knew that there was a demand for educational materials on trauma care,” she shared. And Dr. Melnitchouk already had a head start in knowing the right way to share medical information in an accessible way to both healthcare professionals and the average Ukrainian. As founder of the non-profit Global Medical Knowledge Alliance (GMKA), for years she’d provided education on cancer care to Ukrainian physicians and patients in their local language.
“I knew that access to written English-language training materials is difficult – a lot of them are behind a paywall, and many Ukrainian physicians don’t know the language,” she said. “We knew we needed to get this critical information to people quickly, in their own language, in a format that is open access and coming from sources they can trust.”
Making available visual, easy-to-follow, and readily accessible information was a priority — and videos were an obvious solution. Dr. Melnitchouk partnered with her hospital colleagues, including Dr. Eric Goralnick, an emergency room physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, to develop a series of videos teaching potentially life-saving techniques: anything from how to control bleeding to responding to a hazardous attack from chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear weapons. Produced by Mass General Brigham, these videos are published in both English and Ukrainian.
The first video on managing a traumatic bleeding control situation even ended up helping Dr. Melnitchouk’s very own family. Her nephew in Ukraine used the training from the video to secure an injured civilian with a tourniquet.
The newest series of videos explain what citizens should look out for and how they should respond in the event of a chemical, biological, or radiological/nuclear (CBRN) attack. Providing step-by-step instructions, they cover how to recognize a CBRN attack, evacuation tips, and ways to decontaminate if exposed. Anybody can follow these steps — you don’t need to have any medical training — but these CBRN readiness videos can also assist public safety personnel, including clinicians, EMS, fire fighters, and law enforcement. These videos have been a joint collaboration between many experts in CBRN preparedness, toxicologists, emergency medicine, education, communications and digital media.
In the past two weeks, Mass General Brigham’s CBRN readiness videos have garnered more than 400,000 views alone.
To learn more about the work of Dr. Melnitchouk and Global Medical Knowledge Alliance, please visit www.gmka.org.
To learn more about Brigham and Women's Hospital, please visit Brigham and Women's Hospital