By Danmaryam Zayamu
Health experts from 15 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) members countries are currently brainstorming in Abuja, Nigeria, in a bid to harmonize efforts in the prevention and control of public health threats from infectious diseases.
The brainstorming session which will last for two days, between February 11 and 12, will concentrate more on risk communication.
The workshop which aims to develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for risk communication between countries and regional entities and structures in public health emergencies (PHE) was organised by the West African Health Organization (WAHO) in a collaboration with the Regional Centre for Surveillance and Disease Control (RCDSC) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH Regional Pandemic Prevention Programme (RPPP).
It is being funded by the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
A statement, a copy which was made available to Expressday in Abuja, yesterday, revealed that the workshop is bringing together relevant stakeholders from the African region including other technical development partners.
“In public health events and emergencies, risk communication is a crucial part of mitigation, prevention, response and control and plays a pivotal role in the recovery process.
“It may serve different purposes, such as to awareness creation, encouraging protective behaviour, promoting acceptance of risks and management measures as well as involving actors in decision making.
“However, differing perceptions of risks in sub-groups (e.g. local communities, men, women and experts) as well as trust in disseminated information play a crucial role for the success and failure of risk communication,” the statement noted.
The overall objectives of the workshop, the statement said, include to discuss and develop the outline of two proposed SOPs for coordination of Risk Communication between ECOWAS Member States and regional ECOWAS entities in public health emergencies including cross-border events and to improve risk communication from regional ECOWAS entities with the media in public health emergencies; agree on the key content of the SOPs; define roles, responsibilities and relevant workflows of stakeholders involved and elaborate the base for a first draft of the SOPs.