WHO/Europe’s 5-step emergency risk communication (ERC) package, first launched in 2018, was rolled out to the global organization on 2 May this year, following its proven use as an effective tool for numerous countries in the WHO European Region.
ERC plays a vital role in health emergencies – from prevention and preparedness to response and recovery. It has the potential to be a life-saving part of any emergency situation and should be considered an important investment in health, safety and security. WHO/Europe developed its 5-step capacity-building tool to help guide countries of the European Region in establishing systems and plans for effective ERC, tailored to their specific contexts. The package was tested in 13 countries in the Region before the final version was launched, and it is now being implemented by 20 countries, all using the tool to guide the development of their ERC plans.
“We developed the ERC capacity-building tool at the regional level, tested and implemented it at country level, updated and translated it to launch across the European Region, and now we are delighted to expand to the global level,” said Dr Dorit Nitzan, Acting Regional Emergency Director at WHO/Europe, who opened the launch event. “The global launch of this tool is in the spirit of “one WHO” and working across all 3 levels of the Organization – always with a focus on country impact.”
The global launch of the package was organized by WHO headquarters, under the Pandemic Influenza Preparedness (PIP) Framework and the International Health Regulations (IHR). It took place during a 3-day training at UN City in Copenhagen, Denmark, which included WHO Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) focal points from all WHO regions. The training included several hours devoted specifically to familiarizing focal points with the 5-step package and giving them a chance to participate in simulations and tabletop exercises that will help them put the tool into practice in their own regions.
Dr Supriya Bezbaruah, Technical Officer for Risk Communication at the WHO Regional Office for South-East Asia, was among the participants at the training in Copenhagen. “We’re developing a risk communication strategy for the South-East Asia Region,” she explained. “But each country wants to know what they can do to have a proper system and capacity in place, and they’ve been asking for help on how to develop a plan. The WHO/Europe package covers most needs, because – in spite of all the differences – a lot of challenges, gaps and strengths in risk communication are common to many countries. The plan was made for the European Region, but with tweaks it can easily be adapted for other parts of the world, and that is brilliant – much better than starting from scratch.”
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