Washington, D.C., 20 July 2012 (PAHO/WHO)— The Pan American Health Organization today launched a new online self-study course titled, "Risk communication: building capacity under the International Health Regulations (IHR)." Available through the Virtual Campus for Public Health (VCPH), the new course aims to strengthen capacity in developing risk communication strategies in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The course is designed especially for communication, health and risk management professionals responsible for communication with the public, or whose work involves planning or making decisions relating to communication during public health emergencies. Students and anyone else interested in risk communication may also take the course, which is offered in English or Spanish and takes approximately 40 hours to complete.
The course contains four modules and covers the basic concepts of risk communication, the fundamentals of coordinating outbreak and crisis communication, and the steps involved in planning, developing and implementing a risk communication strategy.
Through numerous learning activities, such as hands-on exercises and case study analyses, participants will be challenged to decide how to communicate with the public during a disease outbreak or other health emergency. They will also learn the conceptual and theoretical foundations for risk perception and how to use them to in an effective response. In addition, they will learn how to strengthen internal and interagency coordination, and communicate effectively with the public and the media during health emergencies.
Participants will also learn to recognize the relationship between 'actively listening' to the population and responding effectively to their concerns, as well as to integrate risk communication into the planning process for responding to public health emergencies.
Within the framework of the International Health Regulations, PAHO/WHO made a commitment to strengthen capacity in Latin America and the Caribbean to plan and implement risk communication activities in the public health arena. This course is a tool for advancing toward that end.
This self-learning course is being made available free of charge with support from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To access the learning modules and evaluations, simply register in the VCPH. Participants will receive a certificate on successful completion of the course.
This online training is a continuation of the virtual diploma, "Risk Communication for Public Health," offered by PAHO/WHO and the Universidad del Norte (Colombia) in 2011. The objective is to give more students with Internet access around the world the opportunity to participate.
PAHO, which celebrates its 110th anniversary this year, is the oldest public health organization in the world. It works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of their peoples and serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).
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