IHLA members are saddened by the passing of three colleagues and shining stars. We are grateful for the time we had together and celebrate their lives and work to advance health literacy.
Dr. Natasha Khurshid, Ph.D.
Dr. Natasha Khurshid, our colleague from Bangladesh and a founding member of the Asian Health Literacy Association (AHLA), passed away on 20 January 2023. She was committed to health literacy and presented at the International Health Literacy Summit from the hospital during one of her treatments.
Dr. Natasha K., MBBS, MPH, PhD, was Associate Professor of Public Health at the Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research, Adjunct Professor at State University of Bangladesh, and Managing Editor of the National Bulletin of Public Health from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. She was country Director in Bangladesh of the Asian Health Literacy Association and Switzerland Prime News Presenter, Maasranga TV. She was recognized as a prominent health communication expert and health literacy professional in Bangladesh, and was involved in research and social service in the health and education sectors.
Communication for health and development was Natasha's passion. She was a nationally renowned media personality and strong health literacy advocate. We met her at health literacy conferences around the world, always with a smile and a great sense of humor.
She leaves behind her husband and daughter.
Dr. Andrew Pleasant, Ph.D.
Andrew Pleasant, PhD, an internationally recognized innovator in bridging the gaps between expert knowledge and the public’s understanding and use of health and science, died at his home in Tucson, Arizona in early November 2022. He was 60 years old.
Andrew was on the forefront of a group of interdisciplinary thinkers who integrated philosophy, social science, public health and social equity into a new, dynamic definition of health and environmental literacy.
His compelling work as a photojournalist in the early 90s in places such as Bosnia, coupled with his advanced degrees at Brown University Center for Environment Studies (MA 2002) and Cornell University Department of Communications (PhD 2004), seemed to be just the right amalgamation of his deep commitment and mission to solving very human problems by empowering individuals and the communities they lived in.
While at Brown he worked closely with Dr. Christina Zarcadoolas and Dr. David Greer, the former Director of Brown’s Medical School. Together, they wrote the highly regarded book, Advancing Health Literacy: A Framework for Understanding and Action, (Jossey Bass, 2006) called “required reading” for health communication professionals by New England Journal of Medicine.
After his formal academic training Andrew became a full member of the graduate faculty at both the UMDNJ School of Public Health, Department of Health Education and Behavioral Science, and Rutgers Department of Geography. Andrew then went on to have a highly productive tenure at Canyon Ranch Institute, Tucson, AZ directing all health literacy programming and evaluation from 2009 to 2017. Andrew was most excited by the work he led in communities across the US, such as the Bronx and Savannah, Georgia, through the Life Enhancement Program. In late 2017, Andrew joined Health Literacy Media (HLM) where he oversaw the development and implementation of HLM’s Clearly Communicating Clinical Trials program (C3T), focused on communicating complex clinical trial findings to people living with complex health conditions.
He served on numerous US and international initiatives, including designing and moderating a process for the Health Literacy Action Plan for the state of Oklahoma; researching and writing reports on the state of health literacy in the United States and globally for the National Academy of Medicine; and actively contributing to The Network for the Public Communication of Science and Technology Incorporated (PCST Network).
On the international stage he actively contributed to research groups in countries such as India, Australia, South Africa, China, Peru and Brazil. Other contributions included IUHPE's Global Workgroup on Health Literacy, World Health Organization Health InterNetwork (HIN) working in Europe and India to develop strategies for public engagement in health research, the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA), and contributing to the advancement of health literacy and scientific communication with researchers from the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (FIOCRUZ) in Brazil.
Whether in Shanghai, China, Rio de Janeiro Brazil, New York, or Savannah, Andrew was a ubiquitous presence known for the memorable workshops he gave on the pressing issues of health literacy, public health, health promotion, science communication, and environmental communication
Dr. Jürgen Pelikan, Ph.D.
It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the passing on 12 February 2023 of Professor Jürgen Pelikan, PhD. Dr. Pelikan was a founding member of the first IHLA Executive Board from 2017-2021 and dedicated to expanding health literacy at a global scale.
Dr. Pelikan was Professor Emeritus of Sociology at University of Vienna, Austria and the Head of WHO-CC Health Promotion in Hospitals and Health Care at the Austrian Public Health Institute (Gesundheit Österreich GmbH) in Vienna.
As a strong advocate for social justice, he was passionate about the impact of health literacy and health promotion. He did research on measuring population and organizational Health Literacy, as well as on Health Promotion in Primary Care and in Hospitals. He was Principal investigator of the European project on measuring population health literacy (HLS19) of the action network on Measuring Population and Organizational Health Literacy (M-POHL) within the EHII initiative of WHO-Europe.
Professor Jürgen Pelikan was a dear friend. He will be greatly missed.