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Development and implementation of a national strategy for risk and crisis communication in Tunisia

The WHO International Health Regulations (2005) form the international legal framework for countries and the international community to jointly address emerging biological, chemical and nuclear risks regardless of their origin. Countries are required to establish core capacities such as a sensitive surveillance system, appropriate diagnostic and treatment capacities as well as risk and crisis communication channels and methods in preparation of a potential event of concern to international health. While capacities such as surveillance and diagnostics of highly pathogenic agents have been prioritized in many countries, risk and crisis communication often remain a neglected area.

The BMZ-funded project on the development of a risk and crisis communication strategy in Tunisia, that started in September 2017 and is going to run for 12 months, is part of the Ministry’s biosecurity and biosafety program. The program itself is implemented by the GIZ, the Robert-Koch-Institute, the Bernhard-Nocht-Institute for Tropical Medicine, the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute, and the Bundeswehr Institute of Microbiology.

A first phase of the project in Tunisia started in November 2015 and as of May 2016 and a first draft of a national risk communication strategy exists.The aim of this project phase is to enable the program partners DSSB (Direction des Soins de Santé de Base) and ONMNE (Observatoire National des Maladies Nouvelles et Emergentes) to further develop the national risk and crisis communication strategy for Tunisia and to advise how the strategy can be implemented.

Once the strategy and its operational plan is finalised, it shall be integrated into the national Epidemic Preparedness Plan. Additionally, training modules will be developed to strengthen in-country capacity development.Goal of the trainings is to build awareness and capacity among actors of the health and other relevant sectors for improved practice of risk and crisis communication.