Collaboration and partnership among all stakeholders was the most important lesson learned from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Head of Corporate Communications Division, Ministry of Health Brunei Darussalam, Ms. Athria Fakhriah bte Hj Awang Yussof said during the pandemic, the Brunei Darussalam Ministry of Health worked with scientists, governments, multilateral organisations, the WHO, and manufacturers to reduce the threat posed by COVID-19.
She cited that collaboration is the best way for innovation to occur. Thus, it is critical that the media understand how to create an effective communication cycle with major stakeholders, especially when it comes to health reporting.
Athirah was presenting a topic on strategic relationship with international and local health bodies on Day 2 of the AIBD/WHO workshop on Health Reporting Strategies & Fighting the Infodemic at Times Hotel in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam.
She also mentioned that during the pandemic, MOH Brunei frequently engaged the local media to ensure that the content produced was appropriate for the local context. Strategic communication guidelines were created, and social media monitoring was critical in dispelling any pandemic misinformation. She expressed gratitude to the WHO country office for assisting the MOH with their initiatives.
WHO Strategic and Risk Communication Specialist, Mr. Djordje Novakovic, echoed that collaboration with the media is one of the most important aspects of health promotion and public health. This is because WHO sees the media as a key partner in communicating health-related issues to the general public.
He elaborated that how WHO develops and distributes information to various stakeholders, and how information-based products are adapted for different audiences. He also emphasised the flow of communication with the local media, including press conferences, interviews, media briefings, and social media. He stressed that the media’s role is not limited to disseminating reliable information but also plays an important role in gathering data from various communities. He also discussed ethical guidelines for health journalists.
Principal at Marble Global UK, Ms. Amy Wrigh conducted her session remotely and devoted her session to infodemic and dispelling misinformation. She highlighted the new global and digital information ecosystem and its implications for health-care systems. Ms. Amy revealed that internet use in Brunei Darussalam has increased by one-third in the last five years, with a 7% increase in social media users. She stated that trust in the news is eroding in many countries. A significant proportion of younger people say they avoid news because it is difficult to follow or understand, whereas social media is their primary source of information, resulting in their own personalised information eco-system.
She emphasised that broadcasters now have a huge responsibility to regain trust by devising new strategies and effectively interacting with their audiences. She went on to say that if broadcasters do not adapt to the new norms, Web 5.0 will bring more ethical challenges, and it will be too late by then.
Mr. Djordje also presented a session on multisource data collection for an informed response in the emergency cycle which emphasised the importance of data collection in public health communication. He emphasised the importance of the media in gathering this data through public opinions, surveys, and polls, as it assists policymakers in understanding public perception on health-related issues. He provided guidelines for utilising multisource data.
Ms. Athirah Yussuf from MOH Brunei gave the day’s final presentation on infodemic management. She discussed what the Ministry of Health is doing to prevent the spread of the epidemic and how the media can help them do a better job.