May 02, 2019

Orchestrating the Focus on Measles With The World Health Organization’s “Playbook”

Guest Commentary by Celeste McGovern, Ghost Ship Media

Every single day this week there has been a new story about a measles outbreak here in Canada. The focus on measles just now is clearly top-down orchestrated and global.  Below is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2012 to 2020 playbook. Here is an excerpt from page 23 which pretty much describes what we are living.

“Communicate and engage to build public confidence and demand for immunization.

• Increased resources are needed for communication to raise the visibility of VPDs and the importance of ongoing immunization services, with a focus on measles and rubella.

• Creating and promoting demand for immunization requires long term investment and should be an integral part of routine immunization strategy.

• Communication plans may target many different audiences (e.g., politicians, public health leaders and workers, healthcare providers, caregivers, etc.). Plans targeting each of these audiences should be developed and audience-specific messages developed and tested.

Communication research science should be used to identify the most effective means of communication; these data should inform the communication strategies selected.

• Outbreaks of measles or rubella should be recognized as opportunities to promote the importance of immunization in preventing outbreaks, with particular focus on measles and rubella vaccination.
• Messages specific to rubella need to be developed, tested, and used.

• Data on measles incidence, including complications and deaths, as well as information on the costs associated with outbreaks, should be the focus of educating various audiences about the importance of preventing the illness. Data should be supplemented by stories of actual cases to illustrate the statistical data. Collection of information on cases of CRS can also be a powerful advocacy tool.

Outbreaks should be an opportunity to sensitize medical professionals about the risk of nosocomial transmission of infectious diseases and take proper preventive measures.

• In advocating for improved prevention of measles and rubella, it will be important to collect stories of how a focus on those diseases not only improved their control but also helped to enhance overall immunization and health systems (see Resource Mobilization Section below).

• Communications plans should address hesitancy toward vaccination and building confidence in vaccines. This should include risk communication following publicized adverse events following immunization (AEFI), and promotion of the safety of vaccines.

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