November 20, 2020

YTILI Alumna’s Efforts Spark Unity and Collaboration in Response to Pandemic

In the Czech Republic, where misinformation has been on the rise since the early stages of the global pandemic, Kateřina Vacková and her team realized a need for combatting disinformation and sought to equip citizens with the knowledge necessary to protect one another.

Targeting the general public, as well as elderly citizens, pregnant women, and frontline workers who are most at risk, Vacková’s team created a website with information from WHO and CDC outlining adequate use of protective equipment and safety measures.

Citizens can come to the site for presentations, webinars, and other helpful resources with tips on how to protect themselves and one another. Themes include “how to wash your hands properly,” “how and when to use a face mask,” and “coronavirus before and after pregnancy.” The information can also be found on social platforms and is shared with schools, community centers, and government institutions to reach more citizens within the region.

Vacková completed her Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative (YTILI) Fellowship in 2018 after graduating from the First Faculty of Medicine and Harvard Medical School. After being diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 22, Vacková was inspired to encourage others to take control of their health. She founded Loono with a vision to empower citizens to take proactive steps toward protecting against long-term health issues and illnesses. 

Vacková has harnessed the platform of Loono to spark broader interest in her site, and to reach more audiences -- recruiting medical professionals, hospitals, and community members alike to join in her efforts. Between their collective outreach, the website has garnered thousands of visits while providing citizens with accurate, timely information around protective measures.

Loono has since grown to include 150 young doctors and medical students. During its time, the team has organized 1,800 workshops and reached nearly 100,000 newly educated individuals. For her endeavors, Vackova was awarded the Social Innovation Prize and made Forbes Magazine’s 30 Under 30 List. 

The impact of her YTILI Fellowship doesn’t stop there. Vacková’s experience led her to further develop transatlantic partnerships and relationships. With plans to partner with Martina Nádvorníková, a YTILI 2018 alumna from Slovakia, Vacková hopes to continue to combat misinformation and develop educational resources in Slovakia as well, by creating more than 30 other resource materials to reach at least one million people. Vacková also intends to expand her reach to include international organizations, including Doctors Without Borders.

“In light of the global pandemic, I have felt the urge to promptly respond to the ongoing crisis in order to protect the health of our citizens and frontline workers,” reflects Vacková. With my team of medical professionals, I believe that in times of crisis, professionals need to unite together.”

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