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!