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High-level Meeting on Risk Communications for Public Health Emergencies

Risk Communication Beyond the Country Borders

Project Period: Contact: Department: Programme: Theme:
18-19 September Riko KIMOTO Sustainable Development & Public Health Department ASEF Public Health Network Public Health



Venue:
Bangkok, Thailand

 Risk Communication Beyond the Country Borders

As global connectivity increases, the risk of epidemics and pandemics also increases. In an interdependent world, public health incidents in one country can rapidly affect its neighbours and even trigger emergency situations in other continents – as was seen during the Ebola epidemic of 2014-2016. It is well established that risk communication plays an essential role in protecting the public from health threats. However, it also has an important role in reducing the negative consequences these threats can have on countries’ economies, trade, and tourism industries. Because of this, countries’ risk communication strategies should not focus only on audiences within their national borders. They should also consider international audiences and how their perception of the threat might impact economic activities and travel.

In 2019, ASEF, MoPH Thailand and MOFA Japan will jointly host the “High-level Meeting on Risk Communication for Public Health Emergencies” with a focus on how best to communicate national health emergencies to the global public. This certainly means going beyond the basic requirements of the International Health Regulation (IHR 2005) to share information with WHO and other Member States. Nonetheless, how much time and effort should national health authorities devote to communicating with global audiences? Who do health authorities need to partner to reach these audiences? Moreover, how should they adapt their communication for them?

Objectives of the High-level Meeting

Specific objectives of the Meeting are:

  • To identify the challenges for national authorities in informing diverse audiences beyond their country’s borders during PHEs;
  • To develop recommendations on good practice in communicating to global audiences during PHEs; and
  • To build an “economic case”, which can be used to convince other sectors such as Ministries of Finance regarding the importance of investing in PHE preparedness and response capacities, including risk communication

Target Audience

The High-level Meeting will aim to address diverse audiences: i) Government officials in charge of health emergencies and health emergency risk communication; ii) Government officials from sectors beyond the health sector that may be impacted by PHEs; and iii) representatives from private sector organisations that may be affected by PHEs.

Expected Outcomes

The High-level Meeting will foster the exchange of good practices in establishing and improving PHE risk communication processes between Asia and Europe. A graphic artist will attend the event and produce a live-scribed report summarising the key recommendations and conclusions.

Partners

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan
  • Ministry of Public Health, Thailand
This project is sponsored by the Government of Japan.

Project Updates

  •  

    ASEF’s Public Health Network held their annual high-level meeting on 18-19 September 2019 in Bangkok, Thailand. The meeting, which was on risk communication for public health emergencies, addressed the topic of risk communication beyond the country borders, where we looked at how public health emergencies within countries affect the international population.

    This meeting saw the participation of more than 80 people from 28 countries and organisations, and these included government officials from both the health and non-health sector, members of international organisations, and representatives of the private sector, including the media and aviation industry.

    The participants identified several challenges of key importance that can be encountered in any public health emergency. These challenges apply equally to public health emergencies with or without an international dimension. In addition, the participants also identified a set of challenges that were unique to risk communication beyond the country borders. These included the challenges faced by addressing a huge diversity of audiences, the possibility of tailoring the news for international media during a combined press conference, and developing partnerships with multiple national and international partners requires a lot of time and resources.

    To overcome these challenges, our participants took part in a simulation exercise which looked at a simulated health emergency during a mass-gathering event. Through this, our facilitator guided the participants through a series of events and gave them the opportunity to develop recommendations on how to address these issues and challenges. The participants came up with a list of recommendations, which included building relations with international mass media outlets and social media influencers, collaborating with defence, security, national intelligence and cyber-security experts against possible threats, and persuade authorities in other countries to take a lead in doing health communication and risk communication to their citizens, among other recommendations.

    A complete report of the event will be released shortly, do visit this project page for more updates and information!

     

  • General poster 1

     

    The High-level Meeting on Risk Communication for Public Health Emergencies: Risk Communication Beyond the Country Borders will be held from 18-19 September in Bangkok, Thailand. The meeting is jointly hosted by ASEF, the Ministry of Public Health Thailand, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan. This year's meeting will bring the discussion on risk communication one step further by assessing how public health emergencies within a country can affect the international population.

    This year's conference will focus on how best to communicate national health emergencies to the global public. This certainly means going beyond the basic requirements of the International Health Regulation (IHR 2005) to share information with WHO and other Member States. Nonetheless, how much time and effort should national health authorities devote to communicating with global audiences? Who do health authorities need to partner to reach these audiences? Moreover, how should they adapt their communication for them?

    The 2-day programme will include panel discussions with experts from both the health sector and non-health sector, showing that this is not only a health issue but requires a multi-sectoral approach. The programme will also include an interactive simulation exercise for participants, where the participants will be grouped to analyse and work through a public health emergency at a mass-gathering event (international sporting event).

     SIMEX poster 1

     

    Visit this page for more information and details on the meeting. Do follow us on our Facebook page and follow the hashtags #ASEFPHN and #ASEFRiskCom for frequent updates!