But Won’t They Panic If We Tell Them? Communication re #ZikaVirus and Other Health Emergencies

My fellow blogger Susan Goffe continues to follow news and information regarding mosquito-borne diseases (currently the Zika Virus). This is an excellent post that I feel I must share with you. During my years in Public Affairs I can only agree with all these comments on how to communicate properly in a time of crisis. The Chikungunya Virus (Chik-V) outbreak in Jamaica was a real disaster in terms of what NOT to do in public relations. I hope this will be of interest – and particularly to the Ministry of Health and its spokesmen. Zika is a particularly tough virus to handle, as we are beginning to realize. And with the ongoing rains, the mosquitoes who were dormant during our recent dry period are making their presence felt again. Great thanks to Susan for this very important post.

Right Steps & Poui Trees

I found myself nodding in agreement frequently as I watched a presentation given by Dr Barbara Reynolds at the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s (CDC) Zika Action Plan Summit which was held in Atlanta, GA on April 1. The title of Dr Reynolds’ talk was “Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication: What the public needs when risks are uncertain”. (Scroll down for link to presentations.)

As I watched the live stream of the presentation, I kept thinking back to a number of public health situations in the past couple of years when the Jamaican public would have benefited from better communication by Government agencies:

  • the chikungunya/ChikV epidemic in 2014
  • the Riverton dump fire in 2015
  • the problems in health facilities & deaths of premature babies in 2015.

And although the current situations with Zika virus and H1N1 influenza virus are being handled significantly better, there are still some ways…

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