The Ghana Health Service (GHS), as part of efforts to ensure effective response to public health emergencies, has been training members of the Risk Communication and Community Engagement Committees (RCCE) in all the 43 districts in the Ashanti Region.
The training being done in batches also seeks to equip participants with the relevant skills in handling emergency situations in communication and community engagement.
Made up of key institutions with the mandate to create awareness on diseases and other public health threats, the RCCEs remains an important body in the management of health emergencies, especially pandemics.
Ghana in the last few years has encountered public health emergencies including COVID-19, Monkey pox (MPOX), Lassa fever, Marburg, and yellow fever.
It is for this reason that the GHS is strengthening the committees with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under its Accelerating Social and Behavior Change (ASBC) activity.
The ASBC activity supports the Government of Ghana and the GHS Health Promotion Division to lead social and behavior change efforts using tested mass media and community engagement strategies.
Mr Felix Frimpong, the Regional Health Promotion Officer, said preparedness towards public health emergencies enabled the health system to function promptly, effectively, and efficiently to significantly reduce attributable deaths or disabilities.
He said there were four major phases in emergency management including mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery, adding that risk communication and social mobilization were critical in this regard.
Risk communication, according to him, was a two-way exchange of information and stressed the need to allow people to share their perspective of the issue to agree on the way forward.
He said it was important to adopt a science-based approach in addressing issues when communicating because the dynamics in various communities were not the same.
Members of the RCCE must respect reporting channels amid emergencies and be discreet about sensitive information which could trigger public anxiety, Mr. Frimpong implored the participants.
Mr. Solomon Boakye, the Regional Disease Control Officer, said the primary responsibility of the sub-committee was to provide a coordinated and harmonised approach across all RCCE activities for improved health promotion.
In line with the One Health approach, the committee is supposed to work collaboratively in finding solutions to public health emergencies, he indicated.
He reminded them of their responsibility to create awareness on any disease and other public health threats and encourage households and community members to adopt preventive and protective behaviors.
Source: Ghana News Agency