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
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.
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.