Emergency risk communications

During outbreaks or emergencies the communications landscape is flooded with information from many sources and the media are thirsty for news. Addressing people's concerns and perceptions at these times requires special attention. For this reason, emergency risk communications (ERC) capacity is a core requirement for countries within the IHR framework.

Effective ERC ensures that risk managers, stakeholders and affected communities are informed at all stages of the risk assessment process so that they can make informed decisions. ERC relies on timely and transparent information sharing, coordination, information delivery, and public and stakeholder participation in the emergency response. Early and regular ERC builds trust and contributes to crisis control, while delaying considerations of ERC increases the likelihood of unfavourable outcomes.

Developing ERC capacity involves improving understanding of ERC principles and practices as well as developing, testing and implementing national ERC plans. At present, many States Parties in the WHO European Region do not have an all-hazard ERC plan within the IHR framework. In the past 2 years WHO has scaled up efforts to work with these States Parties to build up this critical capacity. These efforts include the dissemination of training materials and guidance documents as well as the provision of workshops, trainings, mentorship and support.