Lab Matters Winter 2023 | Page 17


Building Trust in Public Health Through Communications

Jill Sakai , PhD , writer
Communications have always been an essential element of successful public health efforts , but perhaps never more so than during the COVID-19 pandemic , when the world suddenly faced a brand-new , poorly understood threat that seemed to be everywhere . Everyone had questions . What was this new virus ? How did it spread ? How do you avoid it ? How do you know if you have it ? What do you do if you get sick ?
In addition to their round-the-clock work on testing , public health laboratories quickly became a focal point for providing information . And as misinformation seemed to spread as quickly as the virus itself , APHL and laboratory staff found themselves in the role of “ truthtellers .” Ensuring that timely , fact-based information was reaching health and other officials , policymakers , the media and the general public was vital in the effort to slow COVID-19 . It was also critical in the effort to communicate the role public health laboratories played — and the challenges their teams faced — to a much broader audience .
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