Novel coronavirus (58) Healthcare information for the general public (13)

24 February, 2020

With thanks to Global Health Now. Comment from me below.

Full blog here:


It’s past time to call this a pandemic, according to risk communicators Jody Lanard and Peter M. Sandman writing in Ian Mackay’s Virology Down Under blog. They urge governments to shift their energy away from "last-ditch containment messaging" and toward preparedness.

"In most countries ... ordinary citizens have not been asked to prepare. Instead, they have been led to expect that their governments will keep the virus from their doors," they write. They offer practical ways governments, health agencies and hospitals, and citizens can prepare.

They emphasize: “Over-alarming risk messages are far more forgivable than over-reassuring ones.”


Comment (Neil PW): It is crucial for all of us to learn from this evolving outbreak. This is particularly so with regards to communication with, and preparedness of, the general public. I am hopeful that there could be one positive outcome of this outbreak. I hope we shall see a stepchange in commitment by international agencies, governments, funding agencies and others to fix our broken global healthcare information system. We urgently need political and financial commitment in building a world where every person has access to the information they need to protect themselves and those for whom they are responsible, and are protected from misinformation. Only then would we stand a chance of mitigating the impact of a future, even more serious pandemic. We need to always keep in mind the Spanish Flu of 1918, the 'forgotten flu', which is estimated to have killed 40-50 million people worldwide. Some experts suspect that a future pandemic could be even worse.

A stronger global healthcare information system is important not only for coronavirus, but for all areas of health and health care. Failure to access 'the right healthcare information at the right time', at all levels of the health system (including and especially the first levels: home and community), is a major and hugely underestimated cause of avoidable death and suffering.

Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, HIFA Project on Information for Citizens, Parents and Children (sponsorship opportunity)

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 19,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: