4.1. Why should I develop an effective communication plan?

Raising awareness on rabies prevention and control is essential in preventing exposures and encouraging people to seek appropriate treatment. However, it is equally important to have a communication approach that contributes to all components of the overall rabies prevention strategy. From the very start, a rabies prevention strategy should involve consultation with communities, health and veterinary services, the media and relevant people outside the health field; these groups could be vital to implementing solutions. Everyone has their part to play, and engaging all the relevant people – as early as the first stage of defining the problems - will also help them take ownership of their part of the solution. This will ensure that rabies prevention remains a priority with them well into the future.

To work with some groups, you may need ethical clearance from a recognised institution. This is particularly the case if you are working with children. You should consult guidelines for this type of permission in your own country.

It is worth remembering, as an important general principle, that what you ask people to do must be:

• Clear – they have to understand it in the same way as you intend
• Feasible – it has to be possible for them to do as you recommend
• Encouraging – it has to make people want to do as you recommend

The sample principle applies to communication to any audience, whether you are raising awareness amongst bite victims, dog owners, health professionals or policy makers.

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Version 4 - last updated May 2017