HealthBits: A platform that educates individuals “bit-by-bit” on public health

September 18, 2020

Sabreen Huq ‘22 and Maheeb Rabbani ‘23 have created HealthBits, an online platform that aims to provide resources to educate individuals on issues related to public health. HealthBits is an educational platform that is used to inform people creatively. As Huq explains, “we’re not just trying to shoot information at you because you can get that from a textbook or website. We’re here to compile it in a concise manner and then offer related resources and things you can do or what you can get your friends to do to really take action.”

HealthBits began as Huq and Rabbani were exchanging direct messages (or DMs) with each other over Instagram. They exchanged posts about not wearing masks and having difficult conversations with elders about political movements such as Black Lives Matter. They began engaging in meaningful conversations over Instagram, connected over the fact that both of their families are from Bangladesh and eventually decided to create this health platform in June. 

Their first post was about the importance of wearing masks. In later posts they delved into deeper topics. They currently post slides every Monday on Instagram and also through their website. Their process includes discussing topics and then putting together slides.

Huq said her primary motivation “was to really be able to offer my knowledge as an undergraduate student studying public health and see how I can take my own studies, academic experiences and extracurriculars and offer it to people who may not have access to this quality of knowledge.” She continued, “I really wanted to be able to do that in a form of quick facts, easily accessible resources that people can scroll through and get the facts right there.” She desires to be more informed about things going on around her. Her parents are from Bangladesh and she illustrates that she grew up seeing lots of people in distress, especially in relation to public health. 

Rabbani explains that “I wanted to educate myself more on public health issues, because, unlike Sabreen, I am a Politics and IGS [International and Global Studies] major and we barely talk about public health in my classes. When in reality I just feel like all of those topics, whether it be domestic or international politics and public health are just so intertwined.” 

Since their launch, HealthBits has gotten a lot of positive feedback from individuals. One of their goals is to expand their audience. Huq highlights how their platform is more geared towards Generation Z. But now Huq and Maheeb are trying to expand their audience so they can engage in those difficult conversations and individuals have the correct information in their mind. 

Huq has had many conversations with older family members. In addition, if an individual doesn’t want to delve into those difficult conversations right at that moment, they can say “hey, read this. I did some research. These are all facts” and use HealthBits slides to show people the information on a topic. Another goal that the team has is to explore systemic racism and issues that have been exacerbated due to Covid-19.

One of the challenges that the team faced was simplifying many of the extremely dense topics the team desires to address. It is extremely difficult to condense pages of research into six or seven slides. However, when done correctly, the simplified explanation can provide a very powerful message.

The team mainly uses Instagram to engage with individuals. They have polls and also ask for feedback, a lot of which has been positive. The team heard from individuals through Instagram that said that the information they provided was really helpful. In addition, Huq explains that through this platform, she has been able to engage in many meaningful conversations that she wouldn’t normally have had with them over a family dinner. 

Overall, HealthBits allows individuals to become more educated on public health issues that plague society which can lead to discourse and eventual change in society.

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