Effective Communication

In Animal Health Communication, Annotated Readings, Literature Review on June 10, 2008 by Jim

Alders, R. G. and B. Bagnol (2007). “Effective Communication: The Key to Efficient HPAI Prevention and Control.” World’s Poultry Science Journal 63.

This journal article reviewed the challenges involved in the development and implementation of effective communication for the campaign against Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI). It pointed out that most of the messages that were developed during the HPAI outbreaks focused on the zoonotic nature of HPAI taking note of the threat of a pandemic and virtually disregarding the technical advice that the outbreak be dealt at the source. It reviewed the lessons learned and recommended ways for improving efficiency and effectiveness of HPAI communication.

Alders and Bagnol emphasized the challenges in any communication campaign to assist disease control outbreaks. They explained that even one country could have differences in literacy, culture, language, perception on disease and disease control, priorities and communication channels. To ensure effective communication, they recommended that materials be clear, consistent, credible, practical and correct.

Implications to Current Research
This paper is a documentation of the authors’ experience and lessons learned in the field in the implementation of animal disease control program specifically an HPAI Campaign. This highlights the need for empirical evidence on the role of communication for animal disease control or health programs. It also emphasizes the need to validate scientifically how different communication strategies will fit each target audience (per country/region). The authors noted that there is a need for participatory approach in the development and delivery of messages. They also noted that messages should be correctly framed that it fits the social and cultural realities of the target audiences.

Other Notes
Robyn Alders works for the FAO Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD). ECTAD is the lead team that deals with HPAI. She’s based in Southeast Asia. Bridgette Bagnol is an anthropologist who worked with Robyn in Africa. She was instrumental in introducing Robyn to “effective communication” in animal health.

This paper was written based on field experience. There is a need for empirical evidence to validate this claim although in principle, project proponents and even donors agree on the important role that communication plays in development initiatives, in this case, HPAI Campaign.

Valuable Quotations

  • “Education and communication materials dealing with disease prevention and control is especially challenging because of the wide range perceptions about the origin of the disease.” p. 140
  • “Effective risk communication has proved a daunting task given the diverse situations in which the messages are required. Even within the same country, there can be significant socio-cultural diversity with respect to literacy; culture/traditions; languages; perceptions of disease and disease control; priorities; and, communication channels.” p. 140-141
  • “In addition to risk communication, agencies such as the [Food and Agriculture Organization] FAO and [World Organization for Animal Health] OIE have responsibilities for the development of technical recommendations to support the implementation of technically sound and appropriate HPAI prevention and control activities by their national partners.” p. 141

This paper is useful as a simple guide as to what to watch out in implementing a communication campaign regardless for what field, i.e., public health, animal health, etc.


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