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Rabin Martin is the Secretariat of Advancing Health Online, a new initiative launched by Merck and Meta to better understand how social media and behavioral science can be leveraged to improve the health of communities around the world.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for new approaches to address today’s complex health challenges. It also underscored the immense potential of digital platforms, such as social media, to promote public health. However, the global health community has not fully realized the potential of social media to transform behavior that can result in widespread improvements in public health and well-being.

Merck and Meta joined forces in 2021, creating the Advancing Health Online (AHO) Initiative, to examine how to better leverage social media to achieve significant gains in health. They began by supporting research projects around the world to understand how social media is influencing vaccine hesitancy – a growing concern across the globe, including in underserved communities.

The two companies sought a partner to provide strategic guidance on AHO and operationalize its vision. As the Secretariat, Rabin Martin works closely with Merck and Meta and its diverse partners to steer the initiative and ensure that it achieves its ambitious goals.

Together, we designed the initiative’s multi-year strategy, guided investment decisions to support research and country-based programs, shaped partnerships with major global stakeholders, and advised on evaluating success. We have also elevated the initiative and the broader goal of leveraging social media to influence social behavior at key convenings, including during the United Nations General Assembly.

AHO has become a catalyst in advancing understanding of how social media can improve health outcomes around the world. Its Vaccine Confidence Fund has awarded 44 grants globally to support research on harnessing the power of social media to increase vaccination confidence. Its recent partnership with Gavi, called VaxSocial, is currently supporting innovative social media and behavioral science solutions to build vaccine confidence in India, Indonesia and Nigeria.

A group of girls posing in front of a banner promoting innovative partnership in health technology.


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