Zika Communication Mapping: GIS Navigates National Zika Communication Stakeholders to Better Emergency Response

At the height of a public health emergency, social and behavior change communication (SBCC) has a crucial role to play in mitigating negative health outcomes. A key part of an SBCC response to an emergency situation is to understand not only what SBCC activities and campaigns other stakeholders are conducting, but also where those activities are taking place. Beginning in late 2016, the Health Communication Capacity Collaborative (HC3) initiated a Zika communication activity mapping effort in four Latin American countries: El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

To collect the data, HC3, in partnership with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), developed an instrument to capture high-level information about the distribution of communication efforts by audience, geographic area, key message/theme and timeline in each country. HC3, Ministry of Health representatives, UNICEF and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) then identified 10-15 key organizations in the national Zika response for each country. HC3 then led the data collection phase through an iterative process with each organization.

HC3 used the information gathered from partners to develop a mapping tool to support country-level coordination in Zika communication. This tool utilizes Google MyMaps to create an interactive map for each country, allowing users to visualize the geographic distribution of communication efforts by region. The use of geographic information systems (GIS) was highlighted in a recent HC3 webinar as a way “to improve decision-making, increase efficiency and facilitate greater communication and collaboration.” This is particularly useful in an emergency response, when many international, national and local actors are quickly mobilizing across a given geographic area. In these situations, GIS can be used to help coordinate the communication response across partners and regions to avoid conflicting messages or duplication of efforts.

Click markers on the map above to read Spanish descriptions of communication activities throughout the Dominican Republic.

HC3 also developed an in-depth, online database to complement each map. The databases allow stakeholders to view communication activities in their country, filtered by target audience. Together, these tools provide stakeholders with what is often the missing link during emergency situations – a clear and easily accessible snapshot of communication activities, from which they can build partnerships, streamline efforts and redistribute resources.

These detailed Zika communication activity maps and databases also reveal the strengths and gaps in the current response. In each of the four countries, HC3 presented gap analyses and the online tools to stakeholders, which helped inform the next stages of the communication response. In addition, the maps have been utilized in HC3’s quantitative research on Zika knowledge and actions, complementing the research analysis with data on regional communication activities. HC3 will periodically update the tools and analyses, with input from national stakeholders, to continue to facilitate the strategic communication response efforts.

Links to the Zika communication activity maps and databases for each country can be found below:

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