A ‘Health Communication Conclave’ was organized by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in collaboration with Global Health Strategies at India International Centre, New Delhi on 15th July 2022 to facilitate building a communications ecosystem involving researchers and media professionals so that outcome of research reaches the general public. As a part of conclave several rounds of panel discussions and media presentations were organised. During the panel discussion on “Power of Communications: Health Policies from Desks to Households” (Dr.) V.K. Paul, Member, NITI Aayog, and Prof. (Dr.) Balram Bhargava, Secretary, Dept of Health Research, Govt of India & Director-General, ICMR, shared their perspectives on communicating with the public during health emergencies, the process of establishing and gaining public trust, and the power of purposeful communications for transforming public health.
In another panel discussion “The Communications Playbook: Messaging for Millions” the panellists deliberated on the dynamic space of “Public Health communications” and how experienced science communicators within the Government have perfected creative ways of getting their messages across. In another panel discussion on “Changing Perceptions: Nudging Healthy Behaviours” importance on Behaviour Change Communications (BCC) was given, which is critical for the last mile delivery of health solutions and addressing public health challenges. Experts discussed the history, evolution, and successes of BCC; and identification of critical factors that influence it. In another panel discussion on “Experiences from the ground: Reporting during Public Health Emergencies” panellist Journalists shared stories and experiences from the ground about communicating with people and best practices to engage with audiences during a health crisis. During a session on “The Future: Science and Health Storytelling through New Media” changing patterns of health news consumption and the expanding role of social media and digital news platforms in disseminating and absorbing health information and tackling misinformation and fake news was deliberated upon. Apart from the above, Art of Storytelling through Puppeteering, Films & Still Visuals were demonstrated.
The programme marked the last day in office for Prof (Dr).Balaram Bhargava who led ICMR during the crisis period of COVID-19 that included achievements like identification of the first case of COVID-19, expansion of network of RT-PCR testing services, development of indigenous COVID-19 vaccine etc. The hindi edition of his book ‘Going Viral’ was released before he was accorded a warm farewell.
The program attended by various experts and journalists that included Dr. Samiran Panda, Former Additional Director General of ICMR, Dr. Nakul Parashar, Director, Vigyan Prasar, Dr. Sanjay Mehendale, Former Additional General of ICMR, Ms. Pooja Sehgal, Lead, Health Communications, BMGF, Dr. Abhay Bang, Founder, SEARCH and Ms. Sophia Lonappan, National Program Officer for Public Health and Risk Moderator, WHO India. Ms. Anjali Nayyar, Executive Vice President, GHS. Ms. Sushmi Dey, Senior Assistant Editor, National Bureau, The Times of India, Mr. Nitendra Singh, Special Correspondent, DD News, Ms. Rhythma Kaul, Deputy Health Editor, HT Media and Ms. NamitaKohli, Journalist were also part of the panellists.
The program was attended by Directors and Nodal Communication Officers of ICMR Institutes across the country. Dr.Subarna Roy Director of ICMR-National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Belagavi & Dr.Prashant Mathur, Director ICMR-National Centre for Disease Informatics and Research, Bengaluru accompanied by Dr.Banappa S Unger & Dr.Roli Mathur, Nodal Communication Officers of the respective institutes represented from Karnataka.