Media Action Insight Blog
Yvonne MacPherson and Radharani Mitra, US Director and Global Creative Advisor
Well-designed communication can increase healthy behaviours, including vaccine uptake. As global scientists get closer to an effective COVID-19 vaccine, here are our top five mantras for how to think about vaccine communication to ensure a successful rollout.
Arif Al Mamun
Head of Research, BBC Media Action Bangladesh
Back in March 2020, everyone was worried about what would happen when the COVID-19 pandemic reached the Rohingya refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar. It is one of the most densely populated parts of the world, with challenging sanitation and limited health care resources; over 800,000 people live in tarpaulin shelters on unstable slopes and up to 12 inhabitants share each shelter.
Experts warned that up to 98% of the population would be infected during the first year and, without effective intervention, the hospital’s 340 beds would be full to bursting within 2-5 months.
By late March, Bangladesh authorities had restricted movement in and out of the camps, and on 8 April the Bangladesh government imposed a lockdown banning all travel into and out of the district. But in May, COVID-19 was confirmed in two Rohingya refugees and 10 Bangladeshis living nearby.
Looking back, we now know the situation was not as catastrophic as anticipated; cases in the camps remained lower than initially predicted, even as they rose across the country.
Research demonstrates some success
Why this happened is difficult to explain. But our research has demonstrated one success: the level of awareness among the…
Head of Policy
The pandemic has unleashed a global wave of government spending, much of it disbursed quickly, at scale and under difficult circumstances. With it have come concerns over fresh opportunities for corruption.
While much international effort has been dedicated to tackling corruption in recent years, little of it appears to have paid off. Transparency International concluded in their most recent global survey that “most countries have made little or no progress in tackling corruption in almost a decade”.
This lack of progress prompted a rare Special Session of the UN General Assembly last week, the climax of multiple similar regional and other preparatory meetings. Its main outcome was this long political statement.
As a media specialist, I confess consistent bafflement about much of the anti-corruption debate. I believe independent journalism is really effective in deterring corruption, and I often look to see if support for it is prioritised in anti-corruption efforts. When it isn’t – which is almost always – I wonder on what basis decisions are being made and strategies prioritised. The logic increasingly escapes me.
Almost every evidence review or research paper I read concludes…
Country Director, BBC Media Action Indonesia
The spread of information which is false or misleading – whether by word-of-mouth, media, or otherwise – is an age-old phenomenon. Yet advances in technology and increasing access to traditional and social media are propelling the spread of false information, at a speed and scale not seen before in Indonesia and around the world.
The World Health Organization (WHO) described the overwhelming amount of information around COVID-19 and the confusion about what and who to trust an infodemic. A significant part of the problem has been the proliferation of mis- and disinformation, including claims about the origin and reasons for the spread of the coronavirus, methods of protection from infection and illness, and the development, safety, and efficacy of potential vaccines.
For a country like Indonesia - with one of the fastest growing digital markets and mobile internet accelerations in the world, driven by its growing young population – the spread of information disorder in the context of COVID-19 is particularly stark.
Watch: reaching young audiences in Indonesia to address mis- and disinformation
Nishant Lalwani and James Deane
Luminate Managing Director and BBC Media Action Head of Policy
The theme of this year’s World Press Freedom Conference was 'Journalism without fear or favour.' However, the grim reality of the COVID-19 crisis means that many countries around the world may be facing a future with no independent journalism at all, precisely at a time when access to reliable information can be a matter of life and death.
The pandemic has been called a media extinction event. It has led to devastating losses for independent media organisations, of US$30bn in 2020 alone, while laying bare the problems faced by traditional media business models. Just as audiences have…
Yvonne MacPherson and Radharani Mitra
US Director and Global Creative Advisor
As scientists move closer to an effective COVID-19 vaccine, the global health community is preparing for how it will build trust in its safety and efficacy. GAVI (The Vaccine Alliance) Civil Society Constituency recently convened a webinar on Keeping Trust in Immunisation: Community Perceptions of Vaccination in the time of COVID-19 to explore the communication groundwork required to ensure effective vaccine uptake. The webinar gave us an opportunity to share what could help instil trust and raise confidence in vaccines.
We have worked together in health communication at BBC Media Action for…
Global Creative Advisor, BBC Media Action
India has made huge leaps forward in tackling its sanitation challenges as part of its Clean India Mission in which every household has access to a safe toilet.
And yet, ask anyone what happens to their poo after they flush, and you will be met with a blank expression. 60% of urban Indian homes are not connected to sewerage systems. Instead they are usually linked to septic tanks which should require regular cleaning, or ‘de-sludging’, to remain hygienic. Some lead to open drains, a practice which presents a threat to public health. Therefore, addressing knowledge, attitude and practice…
Head of Research and Learning, BBC Media Action, Nigeria
A few years ago, my team and I would confidently have said that our research with audiences was inclusive of various ‘marginalised communities’, including women, young people and people with disabilities. We were careful to ensure that our sampling included respondents and participants from these groups and we were proud that our fieldwork methods enabled ‘inclusive’ participation.
In retrospect, I see some of our assumptions and approaches may actually have contributed to exclusion and stigma, for instance through recruitment screening that sought respondents with visible disabilities…
Director, BBC Media Action USA
The world’s hopes for a vaccine for COVID-19 cannot be overstated.
A vaccine will help prevent new infections, and more than that, it will help businesses and schools in hard-hit countries get back to normal. Vast amounts of money have been invested in finding a vaccine and media reports update us regularly on the progress of over 200 candidate vaccines under evaluation.
There is also important work on ensuring equitable access once a vaccine is available, and some mention of concern about vaccine hesitancy – the delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccines even when vaccine services are…
James Deane and Maha Taki
Head of Policy and Senior Adviser, Media Development
In 2018, BBC Media Action asked whether the financial crisis confronting independent media around the world warranted a much more ambitious, better organised and resourced response from the international community. We proposed then the establishment of a new global fund, focused initially on resource-poor countries where the crisis was most acute.
Two years on, in the midst of a global pandemic in which trusted information is critical – and critically endangered – it is even more clear that this Fund is essential to the future of independent and public interest media.
In co-operation with,…
Director, BBC Media Action USA
On March 20, the World Health Organization announced its latest tactic in its fight against COVID-19 – a new ‘Health Alert’ information service on the popular Facebook-owned messaging app, WhatsApp. Users simply sign up to the service by sending a ‘hi’ message to one of seven Swiss phone numbers – one for each of the seven languages offered. It replies by asking subscribers to select from a list of information options ranging from the latest COVID-19 numbers to myth busters.
With 2 billion users, WhatsApp is an ideal channel for the WHO to communicate trusted health information to people…