Supporting effective regional coordination of advocacy and strategic communication for emerging pandemic threats
The Problem: Emerging pandemic threats are on the increase given the increasing levels of risks from overpopulation, unrestricted travel and mutations of existing viruses into more dangerous and resistant strains.
Objective: The study objectives were to conduct a needs assessment with identify stakeholders in relation to a Zoonosis advocacy package at country and regional level. This included identification of primary, secondary and tertiary audience segments for targeting of possible communication campaigns for pandemic threats, to identify any barriers or benefits to the role out of the advocacy package, to incorporate participatory approaches to build ownership and engagement with the strategy by stakeholders and program beneficiaries and finally, to build internal capacity to undertake advocacy initiatives for regional ‘One Health’ approach in the future.
Methods: The elicitation research utilized a rapid assessment and response (RAR) methodology incorporating qualitative field-work including semi-structured interviews with key informants. Desk research of secondary data sources supported in-field findings.
Results: Results identified a number of gaps and challenges existing in effective program roll-out with a need for more effective coordination at national and regional levels, greater public and civil society engagement, and more effective advocacy and communication were necessary for effective rapid response in the case of out-breaks of infection. Essential insights on key informant expectations for a ‘One World–One Health’ advocacy package were also identified, to support national and regional engagement and rapid response.
Implications: The application of rapid assessment and response, to inform the design of advocacy approaches and crisis communication for emerging pandemic threats is highly recommended. RAR can provide important insights from which to mobilize political will, national and regional resources through purposive advocacy initiatives in the resource constrained settings of developing countries. RAR is found to be particularly effective when dealing with public health priorities such as zoonosis and other pandemic threats with the survey method achieving in a relatively short time period, a comprehensive understanding of stakeholder needs and wants. Future research should also incorporate needs assessments with program beneficiaries to develop a comprehensive understanding of audience needs and wants in relation to EPTs.