Workshop 4: Public health communication and messaging

Guaranteeing all people equal access to information during the COVID-19 pandemic has become increasingly challenging. Early and accessible information during emergencies is vital for protecting people’s health and lives. Yet marginalized population groups often lack access to early-warning communication systems, making them even more vulnerable in emergencies. Delegates discussed how existing communication structures and social spaces have broken-down during the pandemic, and also which breakthroughs have emerged from new ways of communication.

  • This workshop was hosted by Celena Nair, Senior Advisor at Marie Stopes International. 

Main Challenges:

  • Reaching marginalized groups: online access and services are often unavailable to marginalized groups and so they can not benefit from early warning systems.
  • Misinformation: with communication increasingly deployed via social media platforms, misinformation has become an increasing threat and verified information is difficult for people to access.

Opportunities and solutions:

  • Mobile Technology: this presents an opportunity to reach more people, specifically those who are more difficult to reach
  • Know your audience’s habits: in many countries, considerable parts of the population and specifically the most marginalized can still best be reached by telephone or radio broadcasts rather than via the internet. It is important to include these as part of a variety of channels when running risk communication in order to reach as many people as possible.