On November 10th 2016 BBC Media Action held a panel discussion entitled, ”Coming of Age: Communication’s role in powering global health’. The event offered an opportunity to consider why the most effective responses to public health challenges faced by developing countries (such as HIV, Ebola, polio, child mortality) are fiercely debated, yet the vital role of communication has rarely been at the centre of these conversations. The event highlighted key themes from BBC Media Action’s new Policy Briefing: Coming of Age: Communication’s Role in Powering Global Health, and included speakers from UNICEF, WHO, USAID, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Wellcome Trust as well as BBC Media Action.
This practice briefing sets out what BBC Media Action learned in delivering and supporting health communication in response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa in 2014–15. It has a particular focus on Sierra Leone as this was the hub of the organisation’s response.
The paper aims to contribute to a body of knowledge about how to best harness and deploy media and communication in public health emergencies. It also underscores the need for the global community to plan and invest in communication long before any crises take hold, to ensure that communication plays a central role in reducing the impact of future crisis events.
The paper sets out the specific communication challenge posed by Ebola and why it was so difficult to get to grips with this in the early months of the outbreak. It then documents when the health communication response became more useful and explores what that tells us about effective media and communication. Finally, it offers recommendations to ensure that media and communication are used to their full potential during other disease outbreaks or humanitarian crises.
Community theatre can be an effective way to support positive changes in health knowledge and behaviour as well as related social norms. This is a guide for programme managers and community theatre groups on how and why to integrate maternal, infant, and young child nutrition content into existing community theater activities. It provides recommendations for strengthening theater performances based on PATH’s successful experience implementing Magnet Theater for a variety of public health topics throughout Africa and Asia, and the Infant & Young Child Nutrition (IYCN) Project’s experience using theater to promote optimal infant and young child feeding practices in Zambia.
Countries in Africa spend significant amounts of their GDP on delivering health services through systems that are often inefficient, costly and lacking in transparency. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) have the potential to transform the delivery of health services across the continent in ways that not only increase efficiency but also improve accountability (World Bank, 2004). ICTs present a large, unexploited potential for transforming governance and transparency in the health sector in Africa to achieve ‘more health for money spent’ and thereby improve the efficiency of health spending, both domestic- and donor-financed. ICTs present a large, unexploited potential for transforming governance and transparency in the health sector in Africa to achieve ‘more health for money spent’ and thereby improve the efficiency of health spending, both domestic, and donor-financed.
The public health communication community has more tools and mechanisms at its disposal than ever before, but is also facing increasingly complex public health challenges ushered in by globalization, urbanization, conflict, and connective technologies. The community is connected in unprecedented ways, but despite this fact there remains a lack of consistent and coherent communication among responders, within health systems and across the public domain.
In light of this persistent problem, KYNE and News Deeply, supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, convened a meeting on Effective Public Health Communication in an Interconnected World: Enhancing Resilience to Health Crises, held at the Bellagio Center in Bellagio, Italy, in October 2015. At the convening, 18 experts in communication, public health, and emergency response came together to detail areas of alignment and gaps.
This report seeks to distill those lessons learned and contribute to the research base on public health communication in times of crisis, by detailing key takeaways from the convening. News Deeply also conducted interviews with participants, as well as external reviews with community organizations and leaders, to inform the body of the report. In addition, it includes synthesized case studies from three participants across different regional contexts: the 2013–15 Ebola crisis in West Africa, the SARS epidemic of 2003 in Singapore, and the 2015 Legionnaires’ disease outbreak in New York City.