Alert, response, and capacity building under the International Health Regulations (IHR)

Risk communication

Risk communications should be a multi-level and multi-faceted process which aims to help stakeholders define risks, identify hazards, assess vulnerabilities and promote community resilience, thereby promoting the capacity to cope with an unfolding public health emergency. An essential part of risk communication is the dissemination of information to the public about health risks and events, such as outbreaks of disease. For any communication about risk caused by a specific event to be effective, it needs to take into account the social, religious, cultural, political and economic aspects associated with the event, as well as the voice of the affected population. Communications of this kind promote the establishment of appropriate prevention and control action through community-based interventions at individual, family and community levels. Disseminating the information through the appropriate channels is also important.

Communication partners and stakeholders in the country need to be identified, and functional coordination and communication mechanisms established. In addition, it is important to establish communication policies and procedures on the timely release of information with transparency in decision making that is essential for building trust between authorities, populations and partners. Emergency communications plans need to be developed, tested and updated as needed.

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