Improving risk communication through trust and clarity

WP2, WP5

The importance of Risk Communications has come to the forefront of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, Risk Communication has been identified as one of the core capacities of the International Health Regulations that requires the most strengthening.

In response to this, Work Package 5 of the SHARP Joint Action held a Risk Communication workshop in March 2021. Over 40 representatives attended the forum, representing partner countries engaged in the work package activities.

Presenters shared best practice examples that related to the WHO benchmark tool and Joint External Evaluation indicators for risk communication capacity. Participants then went on to discuss these further in break-out sessions where they were able to share additional examples or challenges they had faced in their respective countries during this pandemic.

SHARP partners support each other with lessons learned

Presentation topics included a behavioural campaign focused on compliance delivered by the Public Health institute of Slovenia, as well as an insightful discussion on the benefits of resourcing increased social media response from the Public Health Agency of Sweden.

“SHARP partners are at the forefront of outbreak response in their countries. Feedback received noted lessons learned in other countries support continued response efforts for strengthened risk communication”, says Sara Bengtsson, WP5 Lead and event organiser.

In the final plenary, participants posed questions to a panel of speakers where trust building and tackling misinformation became a recurring theme. Vaccine communications also dominated the conversation with many participants reporting issues of trust in the safety and efficacy of the current vaccines within their respective populations.

Work Package 5 colleagues continue to work in collaboration with Work Package 8 partners to identify knowledge gaps for risk communication and explore the training materials needed to support priority areas.

Additional webinar on risk communication explored COVID-19 Fatigue

In April 2021, WP2 of the SHARP Joint Action hosted a webinar on risk communication in the context of COVID-19 fatigue. You can access the recordings from the event, as well as the full suite of materials, here.