Caricom developing risk communication alert system for non-food, non-pharma goods

Seminar on developing a Rapid Alert System for Dangerous Consumer Goods within CARICOM, Barbados, 1 November 2011

One of the growing areas of within the spectrum of health communication is risk communication. The World Health Organization defines risk communication as “an interactive process of exchange of information and opinion on risk among risk assessors, risk managers, and other interested parties. Risk communication is an integral and ongoing part of the risk analysis exercise, and ideally all stakeholder groups should be involved from the start.”

This past week, Caricom officials took another step towards effective communication when they came together for a seminar aimed at developing a Rapid Alert System for Dangerous Consumer Goods within the region. According the the Secretariat,

“[t]he training is part of a consultancy which focuses on the development of a comprehensive framework, including a computer based platform for the administration of a regional information exchange and response system. It is aimed at strengthening Member States’ market surveillance capabilities in the respect of non-food, non pharmaceuticals which pose a serious risk to consumers’ health and safety.”

I am very interested in seeing how this develops. My hope is that they employ the full range of mediated channels within this process. People across the region engage extensively with text messaging, and young people are very active on social networking sites. In most, if not all Caricom countries, traditional media such radio and television are the main sources to receive health and risk information. But, as more people move away from such channels, we need to consider the places they shift to.

Interestingly, I did not see or hear any discussions of the role of the newly formed regional public health agency. I saw mention of the CSME Unit. If anyone knows how (or if) CARPHA is involved, it would be nice to know.

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