Fighting The Coronavirus, With Openness and Information

In times like these, with so much fake news swirling about, people look to trusted sources of information to help them make sense of developments and how to respond. Indeed, health organization and community pages have seen a surge these past few weeks.

Information - timely, reliable and trusted - might be the best antidote to an outbreak, both of viruses and viral rumors, and the panic and anxiety these can engender.

In the absence of this, the vacuum is inevitably filled by falsehoods and misinformation, spread deliberately or otherwise. To try to counter these, Ministers from official health organization form each nation should address their nation and media, openly and transparently, with briefings to be held weekly.

Explanations need to be nuanced rather and detailed rather than trying to oversimplify the complexities of the situation.

Take , for example, the burning question of whether to wear a mask or not.

Now the idea that donning a mask might help keep the bug at bay seems intuitive. After all, some barriers should be better than none.

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Yet, some authorities have taken the harder line to explain - that while a mask might be useful in some circumstances, such as when you are sick, wearing one when you are not does not provide all that much of a defense, since the virus is more likely to be picked up when you touch your face with your hands, which might have come into contact with droplets of the virus left on surface around you.

While this might be harder to communicate, it makes for greater credibility if public health officials are the one who announce the statements. Similar steps have been taken by top officials in some countries.

Just three weeks after South Korea’s Coronavirus cases soared to the second-highest number in the world, the Asian nation has managed to bring the contagion largely under control thanks to a response that combines transparency, the latest technology and a responsible approach by institutions and citizens.

Nations and communities who have been successful in communicating has been applying the RCCE method suggested by World Health Organization (WHO).

So what is RCCE and how can it help communities in communicating?

Let's find out.

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Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) is the readiness and initial responses to the COVID-19 outbreak. It provides guidance for countries, both those preparing for the outbreak and those with confirmed cases.
on how to implement effective RCCE strategies that will help protect the public’s health.

Why is it important to include RCCE as part of a national public health emergency response?

One of the major lessons learned during major public health events of the 21st century – including outbreaks of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), influenza A(H1N1), and Ebola virus disease – is that RCCE is integral to the success of responses to health emergencies. Every public health emergency faces new communication challenges and can benefit from lessons learned previously. The COVID-19 outbreak challenges public health systems and their ability to effectively communicate with their populations. Failure to communicate well lead to a loss of trust and reputation, economic impacts, and − in the worst case – loss of lives.

Although there are always new lessons to be learned, there are actions we
know will work. This is a call to leaders to ensure that RCCE is an essential component of health emergency readiness and response activities.

One of the most important and effective interventions in a public health response to any event is to proactively communicate what is known, what is unknown, and what is being done to get more information, with the objectives of saving lives and minimizing adverse consequences.

RCCE helps prevent “infodemics” (an excessive amount of information about a problem that makes it difficult to identify a solution), builds trust in the response, and increases the probability that health advice will be followed. It minimizes and manages rumours and misunderstandings that undermine responses and may lead to further disease spread.

Regular and proactive communication and engagement with the public and at-risk populations can help alleviate confusion and avoid misunderstandings.

People have the right to be informed about and understand the health risks that they and their loved ones face.

The perception of risk among affected populations often differs from that of experts and authorities. Effective RCCE can help bridge that gap by determining what people know, how they feel, and what they do in response to disease outbreaks, as well as what they ought to know and do to bring the outbreak under control. Effective RCCE helps transform and deliver complex scientific
knowledge so that it is understood by, accessible to, and trusted by populations and communities.

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Effective RCCE uses community engagement strategies to involve communities in the response and develops acceptable and beneficial interventions to stop further amplification of the outbreak and to ensure that individuals and groups take protective measures.

RCCE is essential for surveillance, case reporting, contact tracing, caring for the sick, delivering clinical care, and gathering local support for any logistic and operational needs for the response.

Effective RCCE can minimize social disruption. Therefore, in addition to protecting health, it can protect jobs, tourism, and the economy.

A trusted and secure platform is essential for effective communication to take place. CollabDeen holds the hallmark tradition for many communities around the world as a trusted and secure platform for communication. 

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