Risk communication

The first ever WHO guidance on Communicating Risk in Public Health Emergencies

10 January 2018 - WHO has released the first ever evidence-based guideline on Emergency Risk Communication to support countries in building capacity for communicating risk during health emergencies.

During any disease outbreak and health emergency, people need and have a right to know what health risks they face and what actions they can take to protect their lives, health, families and communities.

Risk communication is a public health intervention: Countries in Africa prepare for outbreak response


The aim of the Cotonou workshop, held on 14-17 November 2017, was to update key partners and stakeholders from Chad, the Comores, Mauritania and Benin on current best practices in risk communication and community engagement. WHO sees these as key public health interventions during epidemics and other such health emergencies. It is why they feature in the “core capacities” required of countries under the International Health Regulations. It is also why risk communication and community engagement is identified as a key part of health operations in the WHO Emergency Response Framework.

Health workers urged to work with communities to stop Marburg virus disease


4 November 2017 - As the Marburg virus disease continues to unfold in Kween district, eastern Uganda, frontline health workers battling the outbreak have been urged to nurture local capacity to be able to respond to the current and future outbreaks.

“Community engagement is the cornerstone of emergency response. Work with the communities to build their capacity for success and sustainability,” said Dr Zabulon Yoti, WHO Technical Coordinator for Emergencies, Regional Office for Africa.

SocialNET - a WHO network of trained social scientists for integrating social science-based interventions into health emergency work


WHO has established SocialNET, a network of social scientists with the required qualifications and operational experiences to work in epidemics, pandemics and other health emergencies.

There are currently 23 social scientists trained and available to be deployed to countries in need for support in preparedness and response to health emergencies.

Online course on risk communication - open to all, anytime, from anywhere


Risk communication refers to the real-time exchange of information, advice and opinions between experts, officials and people who face a threat to their wellbeing, to enable informed decision-making and to adopt protective behaviors. It’s a core public health intervention in any disease outbreak and health emergency.

This online course, hosted by the new learning platform OpenWHO, features 5 modules of lectures and exercises to equip frontline responders and decision-makers with the information and tools they need to better manage disease outbreaks and health emergencies.

WHO responds to a new acute watery diarrhea oubtreak rumour in a remote zone in Somali region of Ethiopia

In disease outbreak situations, rumours are as valuable as actual surveillance data. In fact, disease response teams particularly surveillance officers, attach a lot of importance on rumours and investigates them until proven wrong or right.

In several instances, disease outbreak rumours have turned out to be correct thereby contributing to early containment, reduced morbidity and mortality associated with major outbreaks. This was the case recently in Somali Region where the Government of Ethiopia, WHO and other partners are battling an outbreak of Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD).

What is risk communication?

Risk communication is an integral part of any public health emergency response. In epidemics and pandemics, in humanitarian crises and natural disasters, risk communication allows people at risk to understand and adopt protective behaviours.

It allows authorities and experts to listen to and address people’s concerns and needs so the advice they provide is relevant, trusted and acceptable. In this video, little Ksir explains why risk communication is so important.

Get the WHO Zika app

Designed to provide essential information on Zika virus disease and its suspected complications for the health care workers as well as the general public. The app is currently available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. Other language versions are in the pipeline. New content, including trainings, is coming soon.




For more information about risk communication, please email: riskcommunication@who.int.