ECOWAS stakeholders deliberate on new strategy for health risk communication

Stakeholder groups belonging to international organisations and country representatives within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have converged in Accra to validate a new health Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) strategy.

The new five-year strategy is to improve the communication preparedness of communities and health work force for disease outbreak and pandemic in West Africa.

During the three-day workshop, the stakeholders will explore the situational analysis of risk communication within the region, share experiences from the implementation of previous regional risk communication strategy and formulate a draft framework for the launch of the new strategy.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Dr Dacosta Aboagye, the Director of Health Promotion, Ghana Health Service and Chairperson of ECOWAS RCCE Strategy, said the new plan of action would focus on prioritising the allocation of enough resources towards communities in curbing outbreaks.

‘In disease outbreak, other are
as such as laboratory, surveillance and case management are given priority, and it is

now time to focus financial resources on risk communication in our various countries. Diseases start from the communities and end in the communities,’ he said.

So far, he said, the RCCE had embarked on a country level engagement to get the buy-in of leaders of countries such as Zambia, Sierra Leone to adopt the strategy and become advocates for its implementation.

He said there had been capacity building programme for Francophone members in Benin and Anglophone members in Accra at the University of Ghana.

Mr. Mahama Asei Seini, Deputy Minister of Health said risk communication was a strong pillar in health management and disease outbreak control.

He, however, observed that financial and human resource constraint had been a major setback in executing such strategies.

‘But I am optimistic that this regional strategy will address the human and financial resources for health needs, including building capacity for risk comm
unication and community engagement,’ he said.

He urged the stakeholders to ensure that the RCCE interventions were based on data and research that focused on previous gains and challenges during the region’s outbreak responses.

The project is co-funded by the European Union and implemented by the GIZ (German Development Cooperation).

Source: Ghana News Agency

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