Communication and community engagement
Risk communication and community engagement are critical to containment efforts. These must begin early to be meaningful. Working with community leaders/ influencers is vital, especially in traditional societies where cultural practices need to be modified/ discarded temporarily to decrease disease transmission. The Ebola outbreak in 2014 illustrated this- traditional burial practices were considered high risk, but there was considerable resistance to alter them until a compromise approach was identified by working with local leaders.
Similarly, where conflicting messaging occurs, trust is eroded. This happened with the World Health Organization in the current COVID-19 pandemic. The same was observed in the USA, where Mr. Trump and Dr. Fauci often made conflicting statements.
Fake news and messaging must be countered using a variety of approaches, not just presenting facts. Data transparency and sharing are important. However, many countries/states have chosen to restrict or even deny access to data about testing, cases, deaths, etc. These actions only serve to undermine public confidence, and create room for speculation.