GMS Risk Communication Specialists Stress Importance of Regional Approach for Health Emergencies
Children attending school in a resettlement village near the Nanai Reservoir in Phôngsali province of the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Photo by Ariel Javellana/ Asian Development Bank
Risk communication is a critical component of countries’ effective response to health emergencies. This is why it is one of the focus areas of the Asia Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases (APSED), the common strategic framework for World Health Organization member countries of the Asia Pacific region to effectively detect, prepare for, and respond to threats posed by emerging infectious diseases. Risk communication helps inform decision making, encourage positive behavior change, and maintain public trust.
A workshop on Strengthening Risk Communications for Health Emergencies was organized by the Ministry of Health of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank, in 12-13 September 2019 in Xieng Kouang, Lao PDR. It gathered Risk Communication specialists from member countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) to generate ideas on communicating and coordinating during health emergencies on a regional scale.
- Presented Risk Communication concepts and framework to ensure common best practices in risk communication;
- Agreed on strategies to enhance structural and coordination mechanisms for Risk Communications;
- Discussed relevant best practice and experiences in Risk Communications from GMS countries; and
- Underscored the need for more strategic approaches, a monitoring and evaluation framework and key indicators for Risk Communications in GMS countries.
Dr. Rattanaxay Phetsouvanh, Department of Communicable Disease Control, Ministry of Health, Lao PDR, in his concluding note, urged the participants to engage the community in implementing their health risk communications plan through various media. He also highlighted the need to build the region’s risk communications capacity.
The meeting generated a list of recommendations on the way forward and an action plan to improve risk communication structures in the GMS.