EACH statement on communication and public awareness in WHO pandemic agreement

pEACH statement 29.1.24

EACH statement on communication and public awareness in WHO pandemic agreement


Communication in the next pandemic must be evidence-based

EACH: International Association for Communication in Healthcare calls for the negotiators of the WHO Pandemic Agreement to maintain and build on their commitment to evidence-based approaches to communication and public awareness in a future pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the critical role of planning and implementing effective communication strategies throughout a public health emergency. Policies were developed at a fast pace and necessarily relied on adjacent evidence due to the initial lack of specific research and the unprecedented urgency on a global scale. The pandemic also highlighted the challenges posed by the current “infodemic”, including mis- and disinformation.

In this context, EACH emphasises that evidence-based guidance for communication is central to shaping approaches to public health communication in a future pandemic. To ensure that policy and practice are evidence-based, person-centred, more inclusive and equitable, we advocate for investment in pandemic-specific research to inform the development of communication strategies, relevant and responsive training and policies, and supporting the translation of research to practice.

A global agreement will provide a mandate for WHO members states, and policymakers as a whole, to connect with experts who are engaged in research and strive to implement the latest evidence. This will help build systemic approaches to improving communication during future pandemics and similar healthcare crises.

Developing risk communication strategies based on scientific evidence from the fields of psychological, behavioural and social sciences, by means of interdisciplinary work across these fields, may improve effectiveness and help overcome psychological barriers that can have a strong bearing on the behavioural response of the public during a pandemic.

Increased empowerment of health institutions and governments to monitor, evaluate and respond to disinformation that hinders the adoption of appropriate precautionary and safety measures to fight a pandemic is also essential.

Furthermore, funded research and implementation of policies should come with integral built-in evaluation strategies that aim to improve the communication and overall experience of those seeking and providing healthcare services during pandemics.


For more information, read our position paper “Critical observations on and suggested ways forward for healthcare communication during COVID-19: pEACH position paper”.