Informal Consultation on Risk Communications Operation Framework for Public Health Emergencies
4 to 6 June 2012
Public health emergencies are generally high profile events and the demand for information from the public and the media is likely to exceed normal dissemination capacities. While many aspects will be similar to routine communications, and will build on existing systems and approaches, health emergency communications will pose unique challenges, particularly in terms of transmission, speed and efficacy of message.
The objectives of health emergency communications are to build trust, enable and empower populations to adopt protective measures, reduce confusion and facilitate enhanced surveillance.
Recognizing that capacity for risk communications during public health events remains a gap in many countries and areas in the Western Pacific Region, the updated Asia Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases (APSED 2010) gives priority to developing systems, procedures and structures to strengthen capacities for health emergency communications in-country. APSED (2010) advocates that a structure/team/mechanism is established and/or developed to proactively and efficiently coordinate health emergency communications. This also involves establishing linkages and coordination arrangements to systematically integrate risk communications with risk assessment, surveillance and response, as well as with relevant sectors.
To address one of the capacity gaps for health emergency preparedness and response, APSED also recommends that working mechanisms (procedures, guidelines and protocols) for health emergency communications are developed and tested to enable governments to facilitate timely and transparent communications to the public during public health events.
The objectives of this informal consultation are:
- to discuss and consolidate inputs from experts on the draft operational framework for health emergency communications which includes communication protocols and guidelines; and
- to agree on mechanisms and identify countries for testing the operation frameworks and guidelines.