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Wednesday, November 9 • 13:30 - 15:00
Back to the Future: What Ebola taught us about risk communication / Retour vers le futur. Ce que le virus Ebola nous a enseigné au sujet de la communication des risques

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Organized by, World Federation of Science Journalists, Damien Chalaud

Just as the world’s attention forgets the devastating impact of the Ebola virus epidemic it is now time to confront the new uncertainties of the Zika virus outbreak.

The unprecedented Ebola epidemic in West Africa was not just a health crisis. It was also an information crisis. It exposed not only failures in the local and international response to a deadly epidemic, but the ineffectiveness of using top down messages to reach communities that exist largely in an information blackout. Poor communication clearly heightened apprehension among the public, while potentially seeding confusion among scientists and journalists who reported the outbreak. The lack of engagement with local communities led to high levels of mistrust, low compliance with the behavior changes needed to reduce transmission, and the spread of rumors.

In the aftermath of Ebola, the international community faced criticism for its inadequate response to the epidemic. While many lessons can be drawn from the epidemic in preparation for future public health emergencies, one of the top recommendations in the World Health Organization’s “Report of the Ebola Interim Assessment panel”, was the need for more cooperation and communication between all the stakeholders: international humanitarian community, health/scientific community, government agencies, media, etc.

Notwithstanding, the world is still ill-prepared to respond to severe and sustained outbreaks such as Ebola and other air-borne diseases. The complex Ebola crisis underlined that research uptake is necessarily a multi-directional process that requires interaction and iteration with stakeholders, engagement with intermediaries and the audiences they target. The proposed panel discussion will look to address some of the following topics by using the Ebola case study:

The barriers to creating a culture of evidence use in the wider public. 
While there have been many efforts to increase uptake among high-level decision-makers in policy and practice, there has been considerably less engagement with the wider public to ensure that they are equally well-informed and empowered.  The public’s primary information access points – the media and civil society organizations – have faced a variety of individual and institutional barriers that have prevented them from most effectively accessing, appraising and translating evidence to their target audiences.

1. Limited access to evidence. One of the biggest challenges to evidence use is simply being able to find and then access it.

2. Limited capacity to appraise evidence. Where there are barriers to accessing evidence, it becomes all the more important to critique what is available. Yet, the longer you search for evidence, the less time you have to consider it, and thus, the less useful it can be (or potentially more harmful it can be) in its practical applications, especially at a local level where it often competes with traditional knowledge systems.

3. Limited capacity to translate and communicate evidence. Even when intermediaries are able to access and appraise evidence, there still exist a number of barriers to translating and communicating that evidence to a public audience.

Moderators
avatar for André Picard

André Picard

Public Health Reporter, Globe and Mail
André Picard is the public health reporter at The Globe and Mail and one of Canada’s top public policy writers. He is also the author of four bestselling books. André has received much acclaim for his writing, including the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service Journalism, the Canadian Policy Research Award, and the Atkinson Fellowship for Public Policy Research. He lives in Montréal.

Speakers
avatar for Damien Chalaud

Damien Chalaud

Executive Director, World Federation of Science Journalists
Damien Chalaud is the Executive Director of the World Federation of Science Journalists. He graduated from the University of London – Goldsmiths College with a Masters degree in Communications and a Masters degree in Journalism. From 1993-1997 he was a journalist and producer at BBC Radio and the BBC World Service. In 1998 he joined the European Broadcasting Union in Geneva as Director of Eurosonic satellite operations. In 2001 he was... Read More →
avatar for David Secko

David Secko

Associate Professor of Journalism, Concordia University
David Secko is an Associate Professor of Journalism at Concordia University (Montréal). He previously worked as a journalist for The Scientist magazine and Vancouver’s Tyee. Dave now studies science journalism as a scholar and is the leader of the Concordia Science Journalism Project (www.csjp.ca). He won a University Research Award for his research contributions in 2011, the Dean’s Award for excellence as a new scholar in 2010... Read More →
avatar for Alpha Daffae Senkpeni

Alpha Daffae Senkpeni

Journalist
Alpha Daffae Senkpeni is a 33 year old Liberian. He is a journalist by profession with over a decade experience in the print, broadcast and online media sectors. Senkpeni is a graduating senior at University of Liberia where he studies mass communication. He has committed his career to development reporting holding an opinion that information can help save lives. He rigorously reported on the 2014 Ebola outbreak in his country.   Amongst... Read More →
avatar for Kahofi Suy

Kahofi Suy

Ivoirian journalist
Kahofi is an Ivoirian journalist and radio producer with a solid background in print, broadcast and online media (blog and social media). Graduating at the Institute of Sciences and Technology of Communication (Côte d’Ivoire), he is also trainer for various media organizations and projects. Founder and editor in chief of the Ivoirian news website Eburnietoday.com, he works for different Radio stations in west Africa like Sud Fm or... Read More →
avatar for Theresa Tam

Theresa Tam

Assistant Deputy Minister, Public Health Agency of Canada
Dr. Theresa Tam is the Assistant Deputy Minister and Deputy Chief Public Health Officer, Public Health Agency of Canada. She has extensive experience in managing infectious disease outbreaks and health emergencies including SARS, pandemic influenza and Ebola.  She is a member of WHO IHR Emergency Committees on Polio, Ebola and MERS-Corona virus, and has demonstrated leadership on a number of global health security and anti-microbial... Read More →


Wednesday November 9, 2016 13:30 - 15:00
Room 202

Attendees (15)