In collaboration with national governments, partners and a range of stakeholders including civil society, UNICEF sponsors communication campaigns in affected countries to bring critical information on pandemic preparedness to families and communities. Growing recognition of the important role of communications is evidenced by the increasing number of national response strategies that include communications as a core element.
In 2006, 52 out of 68 countries replying to the data gathering exercise had implemented mass avian and human influenza campaigns, in June 2007 104 out of 141 countries indicated campaigns had been launched to raise awareness of avian and human influenza (Third Global Progress Report: Responses to Avian Influenza and State of Pandemic Readiness, December 2007 ).
In Azerbaijan, UNICEF is working closely with the government, WHO, WFP and other partners to ensure that families have the knowledge they need to protect themselves and their birds and to be ready to respond to the emergence of a pandemic. UNICEF has developed information materials with the Ministries of Health, Education and Agriculture and is supporting NGO networks to deliver critical life-saving messages. A hunting ban has been put in place since an outbreak in February 2006. Thanks largely to unfailing cooperation from local communities, the effort to educate the public about bird flu prevention seems to be working. [Materials for download.]
In Bosnia and Herzegovina in order to prepare children and families for a potential avian influenza outbreak, UNICEF, with financial support from USAID, is mobilizing partners in a joint effort to provide critical information about avian and pandemic influenza prevention and to avert the panic, especially in remote and poor communities. Activities include the development of a communication strategy; mass media production and community-based communication so that children and families gain life-saving knowledge and learn actions they can take to prevent the potential spread of the killer disease. [Materials for download.]
In Cambodia, raising poultry is an important source of income for many families, helping to pay school and medical fees, as well as buy food and fuel. Cambodian monks, nuns and elders have a strong influential role in educating families about protecting themselves against avian influenza. In 2006, UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Cults and Religions sponsored over 70 orientation sessions in 12 provinces of Cambodia attended by close to 6,000 Buddhist monks and nuns as well as Christian and Muslim religious leaders. Three studies have been undertaken to improve communication materials. Findings and reommendation from these studies will guide the development of new communication and training materials by AED, FAO and UNICEF. [Materials for download.]
In Egypt, The Ministry of Health and Population is collaboratively implementing a community based educational programme with UNICEF to reach out to more than 4.8 million families in the rural areas of the 17 most affected governorates in Egypt. Strategies include: capacity building, research, institutionalization, house to house education, policy advocacy, community awareness and a school program. The program is implemented through 10,000 community health workers (Raedat Reefiat) and their 200 supervisors on various levels. All Raedat Reefiat and supervisors were well trained and are technically supported to address any issue as it arises through a tight monitoring and supervision system. They are using a package of educational materials that is especially tailored to affect general and relevant breeding practices. During the house-to-house visits, members of the families responsible for the poultry breeding learn about means to best protect themselves and the means through which to avoid AI infection among birds or humans. Key messages are "Wash, Cover up your nose and mouth, Separate poultry from living areas and Report" reflecting more specific 14 practices. An outdoor community awareness campaign is on-going in parallel with the house-to-house education. In Addition, a school-based AI educational program has been developed with the objective of providing school children with information about best practices to protect themselves from Avian Flu and to minimize the risk of their infection. This is an initiative that is implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and the Egyptian Red Crescent. The program targets an estimated 3.7 million school children between 6 and 12 years of age in 13 governorates. More than 8,000 teachers are receiving training on utilization of an interactive educational package that will deliver the key messages related to hand washing with soap and staying away from poultry. The specially designed school kit has different games and different interactive activities for children to play with during the class session. [Materials for download.]
In Georgia, UNICEF is supporting the Government in building awareness about avian and pandemic influenza by developing posters, leaflets, and videos for children and families as well as through formal and non-formal education. A study undertaken to identify cultural, economic and behavioral barriers and enablers to adoption of healthy behaviors and safe practices related to poultry keeping, raising, handling and consumption. In March 2007, UNICEF supported the Ministry of Education and Science in conducting a two-day school event for children on protecting themselves and others. [Materials for download.]
In Indonesia, UNICEF is supporting a series of simulation workshops to help the country prepare for a potential influenza pandemic. The programme originated as part of the country’s avian influenza campaign that was launched in December 2007 to raise awareness among children in some 50,000 schools about the dangers of bird flu. Each school is to receive a kit complete with a variety of educational tools that were specially developed using characters from a popular local TV series. The Take Action Against Bird Flu campaign, funded by the Government and people of Japan, and launched in September 2006 in Jakarta included a nationwide advertising strategy with public service announcements and community events. More than 30 million households in Indonesia own chickens, posing a big challenge in the battle against bird flu. UNICEF is working closely with Indonesia’s National Commission on Avian Influenza, as well as local governments, to raise public awareness and give communities the tools they need to protect themselves. [Materials for download.]
In Lao PDR, the government has developed a National Avian Influenza Control and Pandemic Preparedness Plan. The joint programme launched by the Lao PDR Governemnt and UNICEF, with a grant from the Government of Japan, includes increased surveillance of poultry, health education, training and activities to raise community awareness to prevent the spread of avian and human influenza. [Materials for download.]
In Moldova, 500,000 school-age children participated in an interactive Special Hour on Avian Influenza carried out by the Ministry of Education with UNICEF support. The children learnt about “the six basic rules on prevention of Avian Influenza,” and brought back home prevention messages back to their families. The special event was only one of an array of activities set out in the National Communication Strategy on Prevention of Avian Influenza in Moldova. The strategy, adopted by the Government, was developed with UNICEF support. [Materials for download.]
In Myanmar, UNICEF is the UN focal agency for the coordination of avian influenza communication efforts. UNICEF is working to coordinate rapid Knowledge-Attitude-Practices surveys among key target audiences, such as commercial poultry farm workers, backyard poultry farmers, market vendors, poultry transporters, food handlers, and children. Using the findings from the surveys and with funding from the Government of Japan, UNICEF is working with a range of partners to develop effective communication activities and materials to use in preventing avian and human influenza. [Materials for download.]
In Nigeria, UNICEF is working with the Ministries of Health, Education and Agriculture, NGOs and a network of traditional and religious leaders to reach the most remote communities with preventive and critical life-saving messages. With funding from the Japanese Government, UNICEF and Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Information and Communications are supporting the open dialogue sessions in local communities to share information about how to avoid bird flu infection and what to do if there is an outbreak. [Materials for download.]
In Thailand, a nationwide school-based campaign aimed at helping Thai children and their families protect themselves from the threat of Avian Influenza was launched on 10 October 2006 by the Ministry of Education (MOE). The MOE campaign supported by UNICEF and funded by the Government of Japan will cover all 40,000 elementary and secondary schools in the country and will focus on promoting frequent hand washing, rapid reporting of sick and dead poultry and other key behaviours needed to prevent the spread of the deadly H5N1 virus that causes Avian Influenza. [Materials for download.]
In Turkey, where the four resulting deaths from avian influenza were children, UNICEF has activated a 150,000-strong team of volunteers for girls’ education to help spread prevention messages on avian influenza. Four-year-old Selami Bas, has been the only person in Sanliurafa Province to have contracted the avian flu virus which swept the country and survived. [Materials for download.]
In Viet Nam, UNICEF is working with Government Ministries, the FAO, WHO and UNDP in Phase II of the Joint Government / United Nations Programme for strengthening capacity development for management of public health emergencies with a focus on avian and human influenza. [Materials for download.]