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Harnessing the power of PR: shaping a healthier world for all

Omotolá Akindípe, External Relations and Partnerships for the World Health Organization (WHO) and CIPR International committee member reflects on the common values between the WHO and CIPR on their shared 75th anniversary.

As public relations professionals, our roles extend beyond the management of a brand's image and communication with its audience and stakeholders. We play a vital part in delivering 'Health for All,' an initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO) since the 1970s that aims to secure the health and well-being of people across the globe. This year, as WHO and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations celebrate their 75th anniversaries, it's timely to reflect on the important role that PR plays in global health.

PR has a multi-faceted role in 'Health for All': from disseminating crucial health information to fostering trust and credibility in healthcare institutions. Effective PR strategies and interventions can communicate clear and timely advice, updates, and alerts to the public, particularly during health crises. PR also manages public fears during health crises, corrects misinformation, and maintains the credibility of health institutions. It enables dialogue and collaboration between healthcare providers and communities, promoting mutual understanding and cooperation.

PR is vital for crisis management in health scenarios. Through prompt and accurate communication, it can prevent misinformation and panic, reassure the public, and demonstrate an organisation’s commitment to address the issue. PR promotes healthy behaviours on a broad scale, spearheading campaigns on topics like smoking, exercise, and vaccinations, thereby contributing to communities' overall health.

Stakeholder communication is another important role for PR. Ensuring that all parties - from doctors to government entities - are kept informed of essential developments. For non-profit health organisations, PR also facilitates fundraising and advocacy, broadcasting the organisation's impact to potential donors and policymakers. Furthermore, PR can bolster patient satisfaction by effectively communicating services, procedures, and policies.

PR's role in health doesn't stop at communication. It is actively involved in health advocacy, driving awareness for health policies, persuading decision-makers, and rallying public support. PR enhances health literacy by making complex health issues accessible to all. Trust, crucial for 'Health for All,' is also facilitated by PR through transparency, accountability, and responsiveness.

Since 1948, the WHO has been dedicated to promoting health, keeping the world safe, and serving the vulnerable, thus ensuring the highest level of health and well-being for everyone. Concurrently, the CIPR was started in the same year, with the mission of promoting the ethical, competent and professional use of public relations to enhance society.

The role of PR in delivering 'Health for All' is integral and wide-ranging. From disseminating health information to building trust, managing crises, and advocating for health policies, PR's role is crucial in global health. As PR professionals, we should continue to uphold and advance these roles in our practice, especially as we celebrate the 75th anniversary of two organisations that have significantly contributed to PR and health globally.


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