The Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) is a project aimed at improving the public's ability to take self and community-protective behaviors in future crises ranging from health to disaster. Director General of the WHO, Tedros Ghebreyesus, used the term infodemic to describe an overabundance of information – some accurate, some not – that spreads alongside a disease outbreak. Infodemics amplify public risk during crises by creating mental noise and affecting how the public receives and interprets information. To counter the infodemic, credible information and instructive guidance from governments and health officials is essential to reduce risk, reinforce desirable health attitudes, and build trust in institutions. Moreover, effective risk communication is crucial for stopping the spread of conspiracy theories, misinformation, and disinformation which adversely contributes to the overall risk and safety threat of major crises. We also know that the COVID-19 pandemic has been an exceptional and prolonged experience and is adequately described as a deep global societal crisis. From an historical perspective, societal level crises like the pandemic disrupt all aspects of our lives, they can fundamentally reshape our beliefs and our behaviors across multiple domains.
Whereas some have defined risk communication as a science-based approach for communicating in situations where people faced health and safety threats, risk communication is more than just a science-based approach; it should be thought of as making accessible and understandable information needed, especially during major crises, to help people take self-protective behaviors.
Therefore, this RCCE project aims to:
- Understand the pandemic experience different groups – especially vulnerable and neglected populations.
- Evaluate pandemic and post-pandemic communication by governments and health ministries.
- Explore the role of visual communication as a part of communication strategy
- Evaluate susceptibility to 'infodemics' by better understanding information consumption within the community