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Press Release TELL ME 2014-12-06 (en)

on Mon, 12/08/2014 - 22:02
The TELL ME project was created in response to European Commission Call (DG Research and Innovation ‐ HEALTH), for developing an evidence‐based behavioural and communication package to respond to major epidemic outbreaks.

Go to the TELL ME Brochure

TELL ME final conference: new tools for outbreak communication

Experts from different fields gathered in Venice on the 4th and 5th of December to discuss about how a good communication may save lives in case of an epidemic or pandemic. The occasion was the conference of TELL ME, a project co-funded by the European Union to develop a behavioural and communication package based on scientific evidences, aimed to respond to major epidemic outbreaks.
Anat Gesser-Edelsburg, from the School of Public Health of the University of Haifa, presented a new framework model for outbreak communication. “Our aim, with this model, was to avoid the communication chaos we experienced in some cases in the past and to improve communication preparedness”, said Gesser-Edelsburg. “There has been much progress since the idea that the public must be ‘injected’ with a message. Instead, we should engage the public, transforming it into a partner and not considering it just a recipient of the message.”
One of the way to do this is through a proper training for healthcare workers. For this reason, TELL ME experts developed two e-learning online courses for them, both approved by experts from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. “The first one provides general medical guidelines about infectious diseases like flu or SARS, together with information and advices on how to properly communicate with patients and citizens. This is particularly crucial when dealing with the risk of stigmatisation and discrimination,” explains Roberta Villa, from the agency of scientific journalism Zadig. “The second one, specifically dedicated to Ebola, has been reviewed by the Istituto Spallanzani in Rome and has been accredited by the Italian federations of medical doctors and nurses’ associations (FNOMCeO and IPASVI)”.
Jennifer Badham, from the University of Surrey, presented a social simulation model. “It is an informatics tool that combines different approaches to communication, data on the progress of an epidemic and the protective behaviours adopted by individuals to simulate the possible spread of a disease,” explains Badham. “Right now it is not suitable for prediction, but it allows to study the potential effect of different communication strategies.”
The Venice conference also saw the participation of representatives of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who shared their experience in the field of disease management and risk communication. By interacting with such organisations and with many other actors from both the institutions and the civil society, TELL ME members aim to create a community where knowledge from similar initiatives can be shared and unique viewpoints can be expressed, with the aim of refining our defences against the continuing threats posed by infectious diseases at regional and international level.