Case studies across the European Region show how risk communication and community engagement are key to saving lives in health emergencies
A compendium of 18 case studies examining how risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) has been used in the WHO European Region during the COVID-19 pandemic has been published this week. This is the first time that the use of RCCE during a health emergency has been documented in such detail and practice in such diverse settings. Based on interviews with nearly 80 frontline practitioners, it provides a wealth of information and practical experience on how health authorities can use RCCE to help save lives in emergencies.
Collectively, the case studies highlight how having well-designed RCCE interventions has been a major factor in the successful implementation of a variety of COVID-19 public health measures, testing, research from contacts and hygiene measures, to the deployment of vaccines. .
Commenting on the role of RCCE in public health emergency preparedness and response, Gerald Rockenschaub, Regional Director for Emergencies for WHO/Europe, said: “Designing effective RCCE interventions is a highly skilled technical field and can determine the success of the overall health emergency response. . Doing this well requires a methodical and evidence-based approach, as well as skills and experience in RCCE and public health. This is a critical cross-cutting capacity within the emergency cycle, needed to facilitate the success of other key response interventions.”
By compiling and reviewing the case studies, RCCE professionals from WHO/Europe were able to identify valuable lessons for the future and share examples of best practice in the Region. These can be used by health authorities and relevant stakeholders to help them prepare for and respond to future health emergencies.
Cristiana Salvi, Regional Adviser for RCCE at WHO/Europe and Editor-in-Chief of the compendium, said: “We have all learned the hard way that RCCE is a vital public health intervention at the heart of emergency control. However, RCCE is not traditionally a field where evidence of challenges and solutions are documented. With this compendium, WHO/Europe has collected and shared evidence from frontline RCCE practitioners during the pandemic to support current and future decision-making.”
The countries and territories featured in the case studies are: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Finland, France, Georgia, Ireland, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, North Macedonia, Romania, Russian Federation, Sweden, Ukraine, United Kingdom (Scotland) and Kosovo*. The central objective of the compendium is to examine how countries and territories have addressed 4 core capacities for effective RCCE:
- Transparency and early announcement
- Coordination of public communication
- Listening via two-way communication
- Selection of effective channels and trusted key influencers.
Topics relevant since the onset of the pandemic, such as speaking out in the face of uncertainty, monitoring and managing rumors and misinformation, and the role of civil society organizations in community engagement feature prominently in several studies. of cases.
The release of the compendium has been timed to coincide with the first-ever WHO/Europe RCCE School – Large-Scale Emergency Simulation Training and Exercise (FSX), to be held in Istanbul, Turkey, from 3-7 October 2022.
* In accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999).