About The Gazette Search Back Issues Contact Us    
The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University April 30, 2007 | Vol. 36 No. 32
CCP Establishes Avian, Pandemic Flu Communication Program

By Susan Gossling Walters
School of Public Health

A new Global Program on Avian and Pandemic Flu Communication is operating at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Communication Programs. The initiative signals the center's commitment to using strategic communication to proactively achieve a prepared international avian and pandemic flu community.

"Although we wish we lived in a world without the threat of avian flu, we hope our work in strategic behavior change communications will be at the forefront of public health efforts to contain it," said Jane Bertrand, CCP director.

Under the leadership of co-directors Shana Yansen and Basil Safi, the Global Program will draw on the technical expertise of senior staff members Jose Rimon II, James Williams and Doug Storey and will work closely with partner institutions and organizations, including The Johns Hopkins University, USAID, UNICEF, World Bank, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local governments, national stakeholders and the media.

Highly pathogenic avian influenza, known as H5N1, is a potentially devastating threat to public health in countries worldwide, significantly impacting developing economies with reliance on commercial and backyard poultry producers. If the virus becomes pandemic in human populations, it will be catastrophic. According to Storey, both the 1918 outbreak, which killed more than 20 million people worldwide, and the 1987 Asian flu outbreak originated with avian viruses that successfully made the leap to humans.

The establishment of the Global Program brings together years of work CCP has done around the world in response to avian influenza. CCP operates avian flu programs in Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Jordan, Indonesia and Egypt.

In Egypt, for example, the USAID-funded Communication for Healthy Living project led by CCP has provided technical assistance to Egypt's Ministry of Health and Ministry of Information in the implementation of an avian flu communication response that would be quick, unified and effective. Within hours of the confirmation of cases of the H5N1 virus on Feb. 17, 2006, all the major state-owned television channels were broadcasting the news and airing an informative spot showing families how to protect themselves from the deadly virus. PARC Media Monitoring Services reported that the TV message reached 82 percent of Egyptian adults, or 34 million people, within a day.

On the domestic front, CCP is developing an internal communication program to inform and prepare Johns Hopkins employees and constituents about a possible pandemic influenza outbreak in the greater Baltimore/Washington area.

The Global Program on Communication also will house an interactive digital library and resource center for avian and pandemic flu communication. The resource center — which already contains some of the best TV and radio spots, posters, flip charts, booklets and other materials developed in various country programs — will continue to grow and serve health, communication and avian and pandemic flu professionals worldwide.

"Technology has greatly increased access to information for people around the world," Yansen said. "One of CCP's global initiatives is the development of an interactive Web-based tool kit in avian and pandemic influenza." The tool is being developed in collaboration with international organizations including UNICEF, FAO, World Health Organization, CDC and the World Bank, and is funded by the Government of Japan. With resources from all over the world, the tool provides access to essential Web sites, documents, research studies and emergency-preparedness models for developing strategic avian and pandemic influenza communication plans.

For more information, go to and click on "Avian Flu (Global Program)."


The Gazette | The Johns Hopkins University | Suite 540 | 901 S. Bond St. | Baltimore, MD 21231 | 443-287-9900 |