The United States Agency for International Development Eastern and Southern Caribbean Mission (USAID/ESC) supported UNICEF’s Office for the Eastern Caribbean Area to coordinate and host a workshop on social and behavior change communication. Ministries of Health in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Suriname, Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada attended this workshop that was held in Port of Spain, Trinidad from June 13-15, 2023.
The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated how the perception of danger, habits, and behaviors influence health outcomes. Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) is a process of communicating with people using different methods and strategies to encourage them to adopt new behaviors or change existing ones. This training equips participants with the skills to implement SBCC strategies that will lead to improved health outcomes such as vaccine acceptance, reducing salt intake, and increasing physical activity.
Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh, remarked that there is a need to understand environmental factors, including the modern technological environment, which may create resistance to much needed positive changes in the context of cultural and societal norms. This Social and Behaviour Change Workshop which has been greatly anticipated, will be instrumental as it aims to provide the much needed insight on the barriers within our society that hinder the adoption of positive health related practices
Regional Representative, USAID/ESC Mervyn Farroe said, “Improving the quality or coverage of health services is not sufficient to improve health outcomes. We saw this when vaccines were made available but persons were not willing to be vaccinated. With the implementation of social and behavior change strategies, we saw the vaccination coverage improve across the region, and this highlights how essential behavior change interventions are to our collective safety.”
“Developing our social and behavior change communication interventions has helped us ride the wave of recent public health crises, helped build trust in these interventions, and made us more resilient in the face of what may come in the future,” contended Pieter Bult, UNICEF Representative for the Eastern Caribbean Area. “We can use this hard-won knowledge to effect change across other sectors intertwined with health, working together for safer, healthier families and communities,” he added.
As a strategy to build resilience to respond to future public health and other emergencies, . USAID and partners are hosting a series of workshops across the region to build a cadre of professionals who can strategize and implement social and behavior change programming to respond to health emergencies and disasters.
Stay connected with the USAID/Eastern and Southern Caribbean Office of Communications: email@example.com.