Few countries have been more complicated to work with in recent years than Myanmar. Which is why The Warning Project was so excited to be invited by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) to support its efforts to build risk communication capacity to respond to human/animal health emergencies and zoonotic outbreaks in the country.
Led by Warning Project advisor Dr. Marsha Vanderford, the approach was comprehensive including a needs assessment, best practice research literature review, and an interactive workshop with key Government leaders and officials building towards the development of a risk communications strategy and set of recommendations.
“Throughout the project we were able to work with Ministries, and Departments, from both the animal and human-health sectors. The involvement of staff and leadership representing all levels of decision-making and implementation gave us a comprehensive picture of how the communication strategy needed to be built,” said Dr. Vanderford. “The Warning Project team was impressed with the level of participant engagement in the workshop sessions and their sustained inputs and review of each step in the strategy development process.”
Risk communication during emergencies is the real-time exchange of information, advice and opinions between experts, community leaders, or officials and the people who are at risk. The WHO, and the FAO argue that for preparedness and risk reduction interventions to succeed, the public must support those activities.
In practice, however, strengthening emergency risk communication is a challenge not just in Myanmar but in countries around the world. Projects to confront this challenge can be complex, as demonstrated in the Myanmar strategy development process. But despite the challenges, crucial steps were achieved.
“We have been delighted with the work The Warning Project did,” said David Hadrill of the FAO.
Going forward, the work to build risk communication capacity to respond to human/animal health emergencies and zoonotic outbreaks in the country must continue. As Myanmar integrates their new strategy into the regional and international contexts and efforts, it adds to the growing body of collaborative projects that protect the health of its citizens, the region, and the world.