Since its launch in 2009, ASEF Public Health Network has contributed to strengthening ASEM partners’ capacity for managing public health emergencies through sharing best practices and analysing lessons learned. Risk communications for public health emergencies – including pandemics – is one of the common recommendations from a series of ASEF Public Health Network’s multi-sector pandemic preparedness and response workshops over the past years. Both health and non-health sectors underline the need for building capacity to manage communications before, during, and after health crises and for attaining policy and programme support for risk communications. At the previous 2 workshops organised in 2013 and 2014, several public health events were selected (E. coli, SARS/H5N1/H1N1 in Singapore, Japanese Tsunami and Earthquake, Christchurch Earthquake, Ebola Virus Outbreak) and participants underscored that more relevant cases should be discussed to strengthen preparedness for future health events. The Workshop Report from the 2014 workshop in Oslo, which featured presentations on Ebola Virus Outbreak, Christchurch earthquake and SARS/H5N1/H1N1, was published online in March 2015.
In 2015, ASEF Public Health Network organised another workshop “Risk Communications for Public Health Emergencies: Bridging the National Mechanism with Healthcare Workers.” The workshop brought together 48 experts in public health and risk communications from government, private sector, academia, civil sector and international organisations. The workshop featured healthcare workers who worked on emergency response to Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS), 2015 Nepal earthquake and Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Participants evaluated the challenges and capacity needs in communications for real-life events. In this process of drawing lessons, participants identified core elements of risk communication strategies that will be useful in future public health emergencies.
The workshop report is avialble here.