Health communication critical in preventing disease outbreaks – Minister Cummings
Health communication is an important undertaking that can significantly assist Guyana with steering clear from any detrimental disease outbreaks and also foster healthy lifestyles for all.This was stated by Minister within the Public Health Ministry, Karen Cummings, who noted that the Ministry is working towards developing the method in which useful health information is disseminated to the Guyanese public, while also trying to renew primary health care.“Health communication is an essential component of any public health programme. This vital component provides a vehicle for the transmission of messages to targeted audiences on a number of issues that can result in the creation of healthMinister within the Public Health Ministry, Karen Cummingsawareness and the development of the embryonic stages of health literacy,” Cummings stated.“Sustained strategically targeted health communication, can in great measure, avert an outbreak or crisis if it is carefully constructed and disseminated to its intended targeted audiences in a timely fashion. Knowing who, what, when, where, why and how to communicate are timeless fundamental pillars on which we must base our strategic communication activities,” she added.While addressing the communication barrier between the Ministry and the public, Minister Cummings highlighted that the internal structure that deals with the diffusion of information must be modified, since the effective external communication must be created at its source.“In order to have effective external communication, we must first enhance the way we communicate with ourselves. It is imperative, that with a high degree of seriousness and collective responsibility, we address our internal communication mechanisms. The manner in which we engage in our internal communication will certainly result in a more informed and empowered workforce which will ultimately drive the work of the Ministry with vigorous enthusiasm and commitment,” the Minister explained.She also related that the crisis communication planning is an initiative which is on the Ministry’s agenda in order to target any outbreaks or other emergencies before it leads to catastrophic damages.“In the effect of a crisis, we must be responsive. We must have in place, guidelines for effective communication during a crisis. Crisis communication planning can help us deal effectively with those unexpected disasters, emergencies or other unusual events that may cause unfavourable publicity for the Ministry.”For this to materialise, poor message construction must be a thing of the past and information must be professionally processed for it to be received well by the public.“Apart from being a blemish on the Ministry’s image and demonstrating a breach of professionalism, poor message construction can also have far reaching effects as it could mislead recipients and result in harmful and adverse outcomes. Effective health promotion activities will contribute significantly to a more informed and healthier citizenry. ”These mechanisms that the Ministry is currently engaged in will ensure that negative feedbacks are not generated by the public and will also result in the public being educated and informed about lifestyle changes and the magnitudes and precautions of prevalent diseases.