COVID-19 is more than a health crisis; it is also an information and socio-economic crisis. The pandemic and the associated response are prompting the deepest global recession in nearly a century and pushing an estimated 70-100 million more people into extreme poverty.
Until biomedical tools such as vaccines or treatments are developed and widely available people’s behaviours and their willingness to follow public health and social measures remain the most powerful weapons to stop the spread of the virus. Consequently, there is an unprecedented need to elevate the role risk communication and community engagement (RCCE) plays in breaking the chains of transmission and mitigating the impact of the pandemic.
A revised RCCE strategy was needed to reflect this and the learning from the response to-date. The new strategy will cover six months from December 2020 to May 2021.
Analysis of socio-behavioural data shows us some broad trends. In general, people know about COVID-19 and the preventive measures necessary. However, people are becoming complacent and risk perceptions are lowering. In general, people are feeling less confident in what they can do to control the virus. As the pandemic becomes more protracted, pandemic fatigue is increasing. The growing fatigue, the stress caused by uncertainty, lowering risk perceptions and reducing trust in government responses, is taking its toll on the fabric of our communities.
What does the revised strategy focus on?
The shift presented in this strategy is to move from the directive, one-way communication, which characterized the early stages of the COVID-19 response, towards the community engagement and participatory approaches that have been proven to help control and eliminate outbreaks in the past.
OVERARCHING GOAL | That people-centred and community-led approaches are championed widely – resulting in increased trust and social cohesion, and ultimately a reduction in the negative impacts of COVID-19.