News Global Health Center COVID-19 Health Equity

Faculty Scholar speaks at United Nations event on literacy and global health

Cindy Brantmeier, PhD, professor of applied linguistics and global studies in Arts & Sciences, recently addressed the United Nations/UNESCO Latin American Congress on the topic, “Literacy and Global Health: A Study on Language Equity and COVID”. Her study examines the challenges of functional health literacy for language-diverse patients across the U.S. who do not use the language of their health care professionals.

Brantmeier presented findings that show how during the COVID-19 pandemic, health care workers assessed their own communication with language-diverse patients. She found that global discourse from the fields of medicine and epidemiology is often dominated by specialized terms for Covid-19, which are disseminated through government briefings, teleconferences and other methods.

Presented in both Spanish and English, Brantmeier said the aim of her talk was to foster discussion and results. She included details about the development of materials, which are informed by linguistic and language knowledge, and designed to help decrease bias and discrimination in health care.

A Global Health Center collaborator, Brantmeier aims to inspire new directions for research and practice during this global public health emergency and beyond. She will continue her work with UNESCO and plans to lead scholar collaborations in Panama City. Her UNESCO talk was sponsored by the University of Panama.