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SHORT COMMUNICATION
Year : 2020  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 35-36

Corona Virus Disease 2019 Outbreak: Action Plan for Risk Communication and Community Engagement


1 Member of the Medical Education Unit and Institute Research Council, Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth – Deemed to be University, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu, India

Date of Submission08-Mar-2020
Date of Acceptance23-Mar-2020
Date of Web Publication30-Apr-2020

Correspondence Address:
Professor Saurabh RamBihariLal Shrivastava
Department of Community Medicine, Shri Sathya Sai Medical College and Research Institute, Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth (SBV) – Deemed to be University, Tiruporur - Guduvancherry Main Road, Ammapettai, Nellikuppam, Chengalpet District, Tamil Nadu - 603108
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/mamcjms.mamcjms_17_20

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  Abstract 


The Corona Virus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, which originated in China has been declared as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Considering the fact that we are not very much certain about various epidemiological and causative virus attributes, it is quite obvious that a lot of myths and misconceptions will be spreading across the community. Thus, it is crucial to establish an action plan for risk communication and community engagement in already affected nations as well as those nations which are still not affected by the virus. In general, while formulating an action plan for the nations which have not yet reported any case of the disease, we predominantly concentrate on risk communication systems, coordination with different stakeholders, public communication, community engagement, capacity building and strategies to deal with prevailing myths & misconception about the disease. In conclusion, in the current COVID-19 outbreak, the risk communication and community engagement activities are critical components of the preparedness and response plan and all steps should be taken to strengthen the same for a better containment of the outbreak.

Keywords: Community engagement, COVID-19 outbreak, Public Health Emergency of International Concern, risk communication, World Health Organization


How to cite this article:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Corona Virus Disease 2019 Outbreak: Action Plan for Risk Communication and Community Engagement. MAMC J Med Sci 2020;6:35-6

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava SR, Shrivastava PS. Corona Virus Disease 2019 Outbreak: Action Plan for Risk Communication and Community Engagement. MAMC J Med Sci [serial online] 2020 [cited 2020 Aug 4];6:35-6. Available from: http://www.mamcjms.in/text.asp?2020/6/1/35/283502




  Introduction Top


The Corona Virus Disease-2019 (COVID-19) outbreak, which originated in China, has been declared as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and thus it has laid down the need for a collaborative approach between different stakeholders at global level to mount an effective response against the disease.[1] The available global estimates are quite alarming considering the fact that within a span of 24 hours, 5369 deaths were reported, taking the overall number of deaths to 117,021 since the start of the outbreak.[2] Further, a total of 18,44,863 confirmed cases of the disease has been reported, with European region being the most affected accounting for more than 50% of the reported cases worldwide.[2]

COVID-19 outbreak: Necessity to develop trust

Considering the fact that we are not very much certain about various epidemiological and causative virus attributes, it is quite obvious that a lot of myths and misconceptions will be spreading across the community.[1] At the same time, acknowledging the rapid rise in the number of cases, which is still continuing and the deaths of the near and dear ones of thousands of people, there is a definite risk that the bridge of trust between the public health authorities and the local community is put to a strong test.[2],[3] Moreover, it is vital to understand that for the successful containment of the current outbreak, it is must that we should have the support of the local community and we together work as a team for the implementation of other community-based interventions (viz. contact tracing, surveillance, homebased care, etc.).[2],[3],[4]

Action plan for Risk communication and Community engagement

Thus, it is crucial to establish an action plan for risk communication and community engagement in already affected nations as well as those nations which are still not affected by the virus.[3],[5] Risk communication and community engagement is an essential component of preparedness as well as response plan and should be designed in such a way that we succeed in informing the local people about the known, the unknown and what all steps have been taken to mount a better response to the public health emergency.[3],[5] The ultimate goal of the proposed action plan is to communicate to people about the existing preparedness measures in the nation, identify the key stakeholders and resources, and train the staff to implement the risk communication and community engagement plan.[4],[5]

Intricacies of the Action Plan

In general, while formulating an action plan for the nations which have not yet reported any case of the disease, we predominantly concentrate on risk communication systems, coordination with different stakeholders, public communication, community engagement, capacity building and strategies to deal with prevailing myths and misconception about the disease.[3],[4] The policy makers have to include risk communication and community engagement as an integral element of the preparedness activities and support the same with financial and human resource.[3] This has to be followed-up by the identification of the various partners and assessment of the communication capacity of each of them, so that specific responsibilities can be assigned to each one of them based on their strengths and weaknesses.[4],[5]

Importance of the selected spokesperson

Moreover, specific attention has to be given towards the spokesperson who will communicate the facts about the infection in the community. This includes establishing the credentials of the spokesperson, double-check of the information and selection of the right mode of communication to ensure the information reaches the widest segment of the population.[4] It is quite obvious that we cannot be successful in our efforts unless we engage the community and this can only happen once we address the misconceptions and misinformation about the disease and hence gain the trust of the people.[1],[3] However, this will in turn depend on understanding the attitudes, beliefs and concerns of the target audience and then addressing the same through different modalities. Finally, we have to invest in the capacity building activities and creating a team of trained experts who can carry out these activities optimally.[3],[4],[5]


  Conclusion Top


In conclusion, in the current COVID-19 outbreak, the risk communication and community engagement activities are critical components of the preparedness and response plan and all steps should be taken to strengthen the same for a better containment of the outbreak.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

Contribution Details

SRS contributed in the conception or design of the work, drafting of the work, approval of the final version of the manuscript, and agreed for all aspects of the work. PSS contributed in the literature review, revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content, approval of the final version of the manuscript and agreed for all aspects of the work.



 
  References Top

1.
World Health Organization. Statement on the second meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the outbreak of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV); 2020. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/30-01-2020-statement-on-the-second-meeting-of-the-international-health-regulations-(2005)-emergency-committee-regarding-the-outbreak-of-novel-coronavirus-(2019-ncov). [Accessed on March 8, 2020].  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
World Health Organization. Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) Situation Report − 85; 2020. Available at: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20200414-sitrep-85-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=7b8629bb_4. [Accessed on April 15, 2020].  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
World Health Organization. 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV): Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan. Geneva: WHO Press; 2020. pp. 1-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
World Health Organization. Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) Readiness and Response to the 2019 Novel Cronavirus (2019-nCoV) − Interim Guidance v2. Geneva: WHO Press; 2020. pp. 1-3.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Glauser W. Communication, transparency key as Canada faces new coronavirus threat. CMAJ 2020;192:E171-2.  Back to cited text no. 5
    




 

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