Enhancing global health communication during a crisis: lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic

“The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced unique challenges for public health practitioners and health communicators that warrant an expansion of existing health communication principles to take into consideration: the new infodemic (or mis/disinfodemic) challenge – particularly as treatments and vaccines are being developed; communication of risk and uncertainty; health-information behaviours and the instantaneous nature of social media, and the relationship between media literacy and health literacy; the effects of the pandemic on other health issues; and the need for a flexible communication strategy that adapts to the different stages of the pandemic.”

Lessons learnt: Principles discussed in this article will help build preparedness capacity and offer communication strategies for moving from the acute phase to the ‘next normal’ with likely prevention (e.g. herd immunity achieved through vaccination) and societal COVID-19 resilience.


The COVID-19 crisis has been the first pandemic to be almost ‘livestreamed’ on social media and digital platforms. Drawing on the lessons learnt from this situation and contextualising the new media environment that health communicators are called to operate in, the checklist presented in this paper is intended to be used as a tool for preparation as well as a tool for implementation of communication strategies to move from the acute phase of the pandemic to the ‘next normal’. It is critical that health communicators worldwide are more proactive in tackling risk communication challenges related to COVID-19, with likely prevention achieved through vaccination and societal COVID-19 resilience.

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This work was originally published in Public Health Research and Practice, available at https://doi. org/10.17061/phrp3022010

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