Communicating for health

Goal and key audiences

WHO’s communications goal

Although techniques, audiences, and channels for WHO’s communication products and activities differ, they all have the same goal:

To provide information, advice, and guidance to decision-makers (key audiences) to prompt action that will protect the health of individuals, families, communities and nations.

All communications staff across all offices are committed to making sure that WHO’s information, advice, and guidance effectively reaches key audiences to protect the health of individuals, families, communities and nations.

Audiences as health decision-makers

This Framework focuses on communicating to and with key audiences as health decision-makers. They are the agents who use WHO communications products to make a range of health decisions and include the following groups.

Individuals who make decisions about their own health and that of their families (such as whether to take children to a health care provider for screening, practice hand hygiene in the homes, or travel to a country where infectious diseases are circulating).

Health care providers who make decisions about screening, diagnostics, treatment, and recommendations for patients (such as whether to screen HIV patients for tuberculosis, counselling pregnant women about travel to areas of circulating virus, or recommending vaccinations for children).

Policy-makers at national and subnational levels with responsibility for their residents’ health (such as investing in training health workers, building emergency operations centres, or funding vaccine programmes).

Communities who make decisions about shared space, activities, and services with health consequences (such as clean-up of standing water in community squares, creation of walking and exercise space within neighbourhoods, location of health facilities in proximity to residences, etc.).

International organizations and stakeholders who make decisions about funding and implementing health programmes (such as assisting countries in health systems strengthening, funding programmes to reduce chronic diseases, providing support for public health research, etc.).

WHO staff who make decisions about programmes, coordination, human and financial resources, and how they speak to external partners and colleagues about WHO.

For the purposes of WHO’s Strategic Communications Framework, “decision-makers” and “ key audiences” are used interchangeably.

What we do

The principles highlighted in this Framework apply across the whole of WHO’s communications work. Core WHO communications functions are presented below with links to relevant resources.