Section Head Election 2019 - Call for candidates and statements

Health Communication Working Group

The IAMCR’s Health Communication Working Group will run elections for 4 chairs (2 Chairs and 2 Co-chairs) positions during its business meeting at IAMCR 2019  in Madrid, Spain. Health Communication Working Group is the newly created WG from the merger of Communications and HIV AIDS Working Group & Health Communication and Change Working Group.

The Working Group aims to bring together Scholarship on health communication from around the world onto a single platform of IAMCR.  The merged group has evolved stronger over the years. The scholarship has grown over the last few years. The working group has also brought out an edited volume based on papers presented in its annual conferences as part of IAMCR’s Palgrave Macmillan Series. 

We hereby call for candidates for chairs and co-chairs positions. Please send your statement (500 words) to IAMCR General Secretary Gerard Goggin and to the IAMCR secretariat by 19 June 2019.

You will find the election rules at:

IAMCR leadership roles are volunteer positions. IAMCR does not offer a fee waiver at the annual conference or any further financial support for WG Chairs / Co-Chairs. Working Group chairs must be IAMCR members, either directly, or through an IAMCR institutional member who has listed them among its IAMCR representatives. Only IAMCR members who are registered as Members of the Health Communication and Change working group ( including members of HIV & AIDS change working group members) and in good standing at the time of the election are eligible to vote.

If you have any questions do contact Gerard or any of the current chair(s).

Communication and HIV & AIDS Working Group

Health Communication and Change Working Group

Candidates and statements

For Chair/Co-Chair:


Ravindra Kumar Vemula (The English and Foreign Languages University, India)

I have served as the co-chair of the Health Communication and HIV / AIDS working group since 2011. We have come a long way ever since. The group has been able to increase its membership and the number of presenters at its annual conferences has increased manifolds. In association with the HCC group, we have also been able to bring out an edited book based on the papers that were presented in the sessions of the Working Group. The edited volume has been published as part of the Palgrave/MacMilan and IAMCR series.  The focus and the key research areas of the group have also got broadened and we are now in a position where, we are able to attract works on health communication that includes health psychology, risks etc.. We have been regularly conducting joint sessions with Health Communication and Change (HCC) since 2011 and we have made successful efforts for the merger of both groups and we aim to graduate to a section in the near future. I believe with constant persistence we will be able to achieve that soon.  My primary objective and goal for the joint working group is to graduate into section soon. I feel being there at the helm for the last 8 years, our working group definitely can vouch to be section. We are also in the initial stages of working on our second edited volume from the Group under the Palgrave/MacMilan and IAMCR series.

SubbaRao M Gavaravarapu (National Institute of Nutrition, India)

With this statement, I would like to evince my interest to contest for the Chair/Co-chair of the newly formed Health Communication Working Group (after the merger of Health Communication & Change and Communication & HIV/AIDS Working Groups) over the next mandate period.

During my long association with IAMCR since the 2010 conference in Braga, Portugal, I have always been part of the Health Communication & Change (HCC) Working Group. Initially I have served as the international reviewer for the abstracts and ever since I was elected as the Chair of the HCC Working Group in 2015, I have been consciously endeavouring to promote dialogue between the researchers and academics of critical communication and practice-oriented interpretative health communicators. Over this period, the group has witnessed a consistent surge in its membership. The steady growth in the cult reflects the interest of the scholarship not only to engage in the debates on dominant understandings of health and health communication frameworks but also to harness from the lessons from practical/applied communication for promoting health. In all the responsibilities entrusted to me by the members, I have been inclusive, fair and committed to uphold the interest of the group. 

Key achievements of the HCC Group during my tenure:

  • Encouraged theoretical, methodological and practical perspectives in the Groups deliberations with an aim to encourage scholarly dialogue across various sub-fields within health communication
  • Encouraged cross-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary dialogue
  • Promoted cross-cultural participation and inclusivity in management, opinion taking and dialogue within the group
  • Brought out an edited volume (book) on Health Communication under IAMCR/Palgrave McMillan Series in 2017 (Health Communication in the Changing Media Landscape: Perspectives from Developing Countries.  Palgrave:
  • We have been successful in effecting the merger of the HCC and COH Working Groups to form the Health Communication Working Group

As the one who drafted the mission statement of the newly formed Health Communication Group, I shall strive to implement it in letter and spirit. If elected, my priorities will be to:

  • encourage inter and intra group interaction and knowledge sharing both during and outside the conference to make the Working Group into a Section
  • motivate the membership to pursue academic collaborations and contributions for IAMCR Book Series
  • explore possibilities of collaboration and co-create with the risk communication group, as health risk communication needs to evolve further especially in the context of emerging and re-emerging health scares
  • build consensus for establishing a virtual platform for discussion, knowledge sharing and translation

About me

I have a PhD in Communication from University of Hyderabad, India and was ICMR International Young Research Fellow at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore USA in 2013. My research interests   are   in   health,   nutrition   and   food   safety   communication   with   special emphasis on social, behavioral and cultural aspects of communicative processes. My research and praxis have been integrating translational communication science with community-based approaches to promote health and nutrition in India.  I have over 55 Research   papers in peer-reviewed   journals,   10   Book Chapters and 5 Books and many popular and newspaper articles. I co-ordinated the activities of Secretariat of World Health Organization’s (WHO) Southeast Asia Nutrition Research-cum-Action Network of 11 member countries and edited the half-yearly newsletter from 2004-2012.  Currently serving as Asian Editor, American Journal of Health Behaviour and Review Editor, Frontiers in Communication. Served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behaviour (an Elsevier Journal) from 2011-17. 

Dr. SubbaRao M Gavaravarapu, PhD (Health Communication)
Scientist 'E' (Communication) - Deputy Director
Group Leader, Media, Communication & Extension 
National Institute of Nutrition (Indian Council of Medical Research) 
Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Govt. of India 
Jamai-Osmania PO, Hyderabad – 500007.  TS. INDIA 
Phone  # +91-40-27197321; Fax #+91-40-27018234

Sayyed. F. Shah, Jacksonville State University, United States

I would like to express my interest in running for co-chair position of the Health Communication Working Group. I have been involved in different capacities in the working of the Health Communication Working Group (after the merger of Health Communication & Change and Communication & HIV/AIDS Working Groups) of IAMCR for the last four years. My association with IAMCR for the previous four years has equipped me to contribute to the running of the affairs of the working group efficiently.

I am currently working as an assistant professor at the Department of Communication at Jacksonville State University, the U.S.  My scholarly work links critical, theoretical, and professional aspects of media studies and Health, and has also been favorably received (I received Everett Rogers Best Researcher Award). I commit to social justice and social change through academic scholarship and activism. My scholarship promotes the cause of marginalized communities, and theorize how media can play its role in reducing health disparities among different cultural groups. 

My experience as a journalist and as an academic, both in Pakistan and the U.S., and my involvement in different professional organizations across the globe enabled me to understand the deal with researchers from various cultural and national backgrounds. I embrace diverse and heterogeneous methodological and theoretical perspectives. I firmly believe that the scholars whose research are on the fringes of academia need a platform to centralize their concerns to bring new ways of theorizing media structures. I am open to different theoretical, methodological, and paradigmatic perspectives, characteristics that are fundamental to manage a working group at IAMCR that has inclusivity and diversity as its two most cherished values.

If elected, I would focus on the following activities to make Health Communication Working Group more vibrant:

  • Take measures to apply for the status of a section.
  • To further strengthen collaboration with other sections/working groups.
  • Increase collaboration with media organizations, NGO’s, universities across the globe, national government, and media representatives.
  • To publish edited books based on the presentations in the annual meetings of the working group.
  • Come up with innovative publicity ideas in collaboration with other members to increase the presence of the group.

Eliza Govender (University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)

I am Eliza Govender a senior lecturer at the Centre for Communication, Media and Society (CCMS), University of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), Durban South Africa and an associate social scientist with the Centre for AIDS Programme Research in South Africa (CAPRISA). My research interests include social and behavioural change communication, strategic communication approaches with entertainment education and the use of participatory action research for health promotion with specific applications to HIV prevention strategies. 

I was guest editor for two special editions of the African Communication Research journals in HIV Communication in Africa (2010) and Entertainment Education in Africa (2013). I am on the editorial board for Communicare, a leading Communication Science journal of Southern Africa; and I have peer reviewed for international journals such as AIDS and Behaviour,  Culture Health and Sexuality, International Journal of Qualitative Methods, eLife, Communicare, Critical Arts and African Journal for Communication Research. I have been a recipient of several grants and awards some of which include the National Research Foundation (NRF) Thuthuka grant; the Columbia University-South Africa Fogarty AITRP PEPFAR Implementation Science Scholarship (ISS) Award; and the South African/Netherlands Partnership for Alternative Development (SANPAD). 

Candidacy for co-chair of Health Communication working group

I have been associated with IAMCR since 2012 when I first joined the communication and HIV/AIDS working group. My presentation at the IAMCR Durban 2012 conference on the popular Entertainment Education awarding winning Intersexions television series attracted interest from several members within the working group which culminated in an international study with working group members from the University of Gavle, Windesheim University, Netherlands, New Jersey College, USA, and University of KZN. The findings of this collaborative working group study were presented at the IAMCR 2013 conference in Dublin. I have maintained research discussions and projects through ongoing collaboration with several members over the last 8 years which is indicative of the successes of the health communication working group.  

I would like to put forward my candidacy as co-chair for the Health Communication Working Group with following key objectives: 

  • Increase critical thinking and knowledge sharing within the working group that reflect global and localised discourses in health communication
  • Attract emerging scholars and increase the members of the health communication working group
  • Explore transitioning the working group into a session
  • Create a forum for consistent and regular working group engagement, discussions, debates and knowledge sharing. 
  • Identify opportunities for international research collaboration, lecturer student exchange and joint publications. 

Sinikka Torkkola (Tampere University, Finland)

I am interested in the chair / co-chair position at Health Communication Working Group of IAMCR. I see HCC is an interesting and talented international forum for the health communication scholars from all over the world. I have experience from HCC since Stockholm conference 2008 and I have attended several times sessions of HCC at the IAMCR conferences. This year, in Madrid conference I was one of reviewer of the abstracts submitted to HCC.

Today, when communication is coming more and more essential part of health care and health promotion, the forum offers a discussion platform for both practically and theoretically oriented health communication experts from different disciplines. Because of the disciplinary plurality of the health communication field, I see HCC as one of the most important forum to promote discussion on the theories of the health communication. 

I am a senior researcher fellow from Tampere University. Such now I am doing a research on social media and health professionals as a part of the research project Struggling with Ignorance: Negative Expertise and the Erosion of the Finnish Information Society at the Turn of 2020 (NEGATE). In my PhD (2008) I focused on a hospital constructed in the newspaper stories and the theory of (ill)health and journalism. After my PhD, I have done research on health communication and social media. Furthermore, I have done research on journalism from gender perspective as well political journalism. 

I have some experience on international cooperation. I stayed as a vice chair of ECREA Women’s network and network’s representative in the board of ECREA 2008-2012. Furthermore, I was in charge Nordic conference for media and communication research arranged in Finland 2007 and 2017.  A visiting researcher, I have been in the University of Oregon and Moscow State University. Last December I visited Nordic Centre at Fudan University  in Sanghai and gave a lecture in East China Normal University. Next autumn I will be a visiting researcher at the University of Bucharest for two months. 

Professor Kaarle Nordenstreng  ( agreed to act as a reference for me.


Sinikka Torkkola