National Academies Press: OpenBook
« Previous: Front Matter
Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Building Communication Capacity to Counter Infectious Disease Threats: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24738.
×

1

Introduction
1

Building communication capacity is a critical piece of preparing for, detecting, and responding to infectious disease threats. The International Health Regulations (IHR)2 establish risk communication—the real-time exchange of information, advice, and opinions between experts or officials and people who face a threat to their survival, health, and economic or social well-being—as a core capacity that World Health Organization (WHO) member states must fulfill to strengthen the fight against these threats. Despite global recognition of the importance of complying with IHR, 67 percent of signatory countries report themselves as not compliant (WHO, 2015). This lack of capacity has grave consequences, as shown during the West African Ebola epidemic that began in late 2013 and killed 11,325 people according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention3 (CDC). The lack of communication infrastructure and procedures delayed the transmission of key messages from public health and government officials to the public (Bedrosian et al., 2016). Furthermore, poor mechanisms were in place for the public to share questions, concerns,

___________________

1 The planning committee’s role was limited to planning the workshop, and the Proceedings of a Workshop has been prepared by the workshop rapporteurs as a factual summary of what occurred at the workshop. Statements, recommendations, and opinions expressed are those of individual presenters and participants and are not necessarily endorsed or verified by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and they should not be construed as reflecting any group consensus.

2 Available at www.who.int/topics/international_health_regulations/en (accessed February 13, 2017).

3 See www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/outbreaks/2014-west-africa (accessed February 23, 2017).

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Building Communication Capacity to Counter Infectious Disease Threats: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24738.
×

and fears with public health authorities (Wilkinson et al., 2017). By investing in communication capacity, public health and government officials and civil society organizations facing similar crises would be prepared to provide advice, information, and reassurance to the public as well as to rapidly develop messages and community engagement activities that are coordinated and take into account social and behavioral dynamics among all sectors.

Various organizations, including CDC (2011) and WHO (2008), have provided guidance on developing frameworks, standards, protocols, and conceptual approaches to communicating critical information during infectious disease outbreaks. Furthermore, governments and nongovernmental organizations have developed and implemented plans to address the gaps in communication capacity during these situations. Despite the progress, many governments have not streamlined, integrated, or translated these approaches into effective practice and self-reported to lack the full implementation of risk communication capacity as defined under the IHR (WHO, 2016b). Moreover, some of these efforts have not been replicated or tested in different outbreak scenarios and have not considered the entire political, social, and cultural environment in which communication occurs.

MEETING OBJECTIVES

To learn about current national and international efforts to develop the capacity to communicate effectively during times of infectious disease outbreaks, and to explore gaps in the research agenda that may help address communication needs to advance the field, the Forum on Microbial Threats of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a 1.5 day workshop on December 13 and 14, 2016, in Washington, DC. This workshop brought together stakeholders at different levels of outbreak detection, preparedness, and response. They reviewed progress and needs in strengthening communication capacity for dealing with infectious disease threats for both outbreaks and routine challenges in the United States and abroad. An ad hoc committee with members Jeffrey S. Duchin (Chair), Baruch Fischhoff, Jennifer Gardy, Rima F. Khabbaz, Rafael Obregon, Jennifer Olsen, J. Douglas Storey, and Janet Tobias planned the workshop. The workshop featured invited presentations and discussions that aimed to meet the workshop’s objectives (see Box 1-1).4

In his welcome to the workshop attendees, David Relman, the Thomas C. and Joan M. Merigan Professor at Stanford University, noted that the forum members have been discussing the essential role communication plays in the prevention, detection, and response to microbial threats

___________________

4 The full statement of task is available in Appendix A.

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Building Communication Capacity to Counter Infectious Disease Threats: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24738.
×

and have sought to organize a workshop to discuss key problems and strategies around this important topic for several years. “We view these topics as fundamental to the business of translating theory and research and development into policy in the realm of emerging infectious disease,” said Relman. Jeffrey Duchin, health officer and chief of the Communicable Disease Epidemiology and Immunization Section for Public Health in Seattle and King County, Washington, added that the high-level goals of the workshop were to highlight the benefit and importance of cross-disciplinary contributions in this area and to examine opportunities and challenges for building improved communication capacity and capability.

ORGANIZATION OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF A WORKSHOP

In accordance with the policies of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the workshop did not attempt to establish any

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Building Communication Capacity to Counter Infectious Disease Threats: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24738.
×

conclusions or recommendations about needs and future directions, focusing instead on information presented, questions raised, and improvements recommended by individual workshop participants. Chapter 2 outlines different perspectives on the challenges and opportunities of communicating infectious diseases threats. Chapter 3 lays out the scientific foundation for effective communication, drawing from the fields of social, behavioral, and decision sciences. Chapter 4 discusses effective communication in practice during an outbreak. It delves into approaches in packaging stories, managing misinformation and rumors, leveraging participatory surveillance and bidirectional communication platforms, and training journalists and other communicators on the ground. Chapter 5 presents the role of data and evidence in the field, using lessons from the recent Ebola and Zika outbreaks. Chapter 6 covers strengthening communication and community engagement efforts in disease outbreak response from a systems level. It describes the gaps of the international normative aspects of risk communication under IHR and the elements needed to implement communication capacity from a systems-strengthening perspective. Finally, Chapter 7 reports on crosscutting themes and possible strategies in building communication capacity to counter infectious disease threats.

Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Building Communication Capacity to Counter Infectious Disease Threats: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24738.
×
Page 1
Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Building Communication Capacity to Counter Infectious Disease Threats: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24738.
×
Page 2
Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Building Communication Capacity to Counter Infectious Disease Threats: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24738.
×
Page 3
Suggested Citation:"1 Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Building Communication Capacity to Counter Infectious Disease Threats: Proceedings of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24738.
×
Page 4
Next: 2 Perspectives on Building Communication Capacity to Counter Infectious Disease Threats »
Building Communication Capacity to Counter Infectious Disease Threats: Proceedings of a Workshop Get This Book
×
Buy Paperback | $60.00 Buy Ebook | $48.99
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

Building communication capacity is a critical piece of preparing for, detecting, and responding to infectious disease threats. The International Health Regulations (IHR) establish risk communication—the real-time exchange of information, advice, and opinions between experts or officials and people who face a threat to their survival, health, and economic or social well-being—as a core capacity that World Health Organization member states must fulfill to strengthen the fight against these threats. Despite global recognition of the importance of complying with IHR, 67 percent of signatory countries report themselves as not compliant. By investing in communication capacity, public health and government officials and civil society organizations facing health crises would be prepared to provide advice, information, and reassurance to the public as well as to rapidly develop messages and community engagement activities that are coordinated and take into account social and behavioral dynamics among all sectors.

To learn about current national and international efforts to develop the capacity to communicate effectively during times of infectious disease outbreaks, and to explore gaps in the research agenda that may help address communication needs to advance the field, the Forum on Microbial Threats of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a 1.5 day workshop on December 13 and 14, 2016, in Washington, DC. Participants reviewed progress and needs in strengthening communication capacity for dealing with infectious disease threats for both outbreaks and routine challenges in the United States and abroad. This publication summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop.

  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook, NAP.edu's online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    Switch between the Original Pages, where you can read the report as it appeared in print, and Text Pages for the web version, where you can highlight and search the text.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  9. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!