The Tunisian Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries, H.E. Samir Taïeb.
The third OIE Seminar for the National Focal Points for Communication (NFP) was organised in Tunis (Tunisia) from 26 to 28 June 2018. The seminar was organised by the OIE Communication Unit and the OIE Sub Regional Representation for North Africa, respectively for technical and organisational aspects.
An extra day of training for the NFPS of the 10 countries (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Republic of Congo, Senegal and Sierra Leone) targeted by the EBO-SURSY Project was organized back to back on June 29. The workshop was co-funded by the UK government and the European Union.
The Tunisian Minister of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries, H.E. Samir Taïeb, opened the workshop in the presence of Dr. Malek Zrelli (Chief Veterinary Officer of Tunisia), Dr. Rachid Bouguedour (OIE Sub-Regional Representative for North Africa) Dr Catherine Bertrand-Ferrandis (Head of the OIE Communication Unit) and Dr Mohammed Bengoumi (FAO for North Africa).
A total of 36 African countries participated in the seminar (Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Chad, Cameron, Comoros, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Sao Tome et Principe, Sierra Leone, Senegal, South Sudan (rep. of), Swaziland, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe). Communication experts of the OIE, World Health Organisation (WHO) and a communication agency delivered the presentations and facilitated the work during the seminar and interacted with the audience.
The general objective of the seminar was to provide to National Focal Points with all the necessary information in order to support their respective OIE Delegates in the field of communication, according to Terms of Reference and Chapter 3.3 of the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code.
The programme of the seminar was specifically developed to capitalise on the recent OIE Communication campaigns (e.g. AMR) and included simulation exercises to learn major communication skills needed by Veterinary Services. Targeted working documents were used during the seminar such as OIE Standards, Video and Handbook [(e.g. OIE Communication Handbook for Veterinary Services developed in collaboration with WHO]. The specific objectives were to provide to the participants:
Particular emphasis was given to the OIE, WHO and FAO Tripartite communication actions and efforts on AMR by presenting the digital communications kit (easy sharing of infographics, social media cards, videos) and the interactive platform which allow to learn how to handle antibiotics with care and help us stop the spread of antibiotic resistance.
The seminar also included a session dedicate on how to communicate with the media and the importance of engaging them highlighting the fact that today the journalism has changed (from printing to digital) and where the information is instantaneous and news released in real-time through internet. Therefore, discussions were held about the methods that can effectively communicate with different types of journalists and media outlets as well as the definition of the role and the skills of a spokesperson. A dedicated session was devoted to communication in crisis situation and how to face it and build trust because the information disseminated by experts could be no longer sufficient nor effective if used alone. The composition of a crisis cell and establishing the crisis management plan were presented and discussed. A specific exercise was prepared and practised by the participants with the aim of providing them with the following skills:
The seminar allowed increasing the visibility of the OIE as well as its communication campaigns. To share directly the OIE tools with the countries has a powerful impact and increases its dissemination at national level. In addition, it was highlighted by the participants the positive impact of the interactive sessions provided over the 3-day seminar, the practical exercises conducted as well as the sharing of different country experiences.
Catherine Bertrand-Ferrandis, Head of the OIE Communication Unit.
A total of 8 out of the 10 targeted countries participated to the fourth day seminar (Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Republic of Congo, Senegal and Sierra Leone). The general objective of the extra day training was to build on methodologies learnt during the three-day NFP seminar to apply them in building a template for a community engagement action plan on zoonosis surveillance and advocacy to be used at national level.
This extra day was also the opportunity to discuss directly with the Veterinary Services representatives and learn from them on key topics such as: (i) Their needs regarding communication tools, approaches and tactics in regard to local communities’ involvement in surveillance networks, (ii) Their feedback on proposed tools targeting local communities and, (iii) Their interest and capacity in developing a national or regional network. This information is key to adapt the design and relevance of the upcoming communication tools targeting local communities and VS within the EBO-SURSY Project context.
The practical exercise guided the participants to: (i) Establish a mapping of stakeholders and define strategies to gain their supports; (ii) Identify tools and tactics needed to raise awareness and engagement of communities to prevent and survey zoonosis; (iii) Provide feedback on proposed communication tools for the local communities (iv) Draft key messages for Ebola virus diseases (5), Marburg, Lassa Fever, Rift Valley Fever, Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic fever; (v) Elaborate a draft of communication plan on zoonosis awareness.
The discussion confirmed that social norms and local involvement are key factors to take into account while developing communication tools targeting local communities. The level of engagement of the participants resulted in very interesting debates and discussions that will support the implementation of community based surveillance systems.
All pictures © A. Ripani (oie) 2018, unless mentioned otherwise.