Although the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Afghanistan have been moderate compared to global hotspots, the numbers of infected people are increasing rapidly at an alarming rate. In this situation appropriate communication and information by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) is crucial to avoid panic and an unnecessary waste of resources. mangement4health (m4h) in partnership with GIZ International Services supports the MoPH in managing this challenge.

The short-term mission in COVID-19 communication and PR has been part of a wide-ranging EU funded technical assistance project that started already in 2016 and is about to finish. The objective of the whole project has been to strengthen the technical and managerial capacity of the MoPH in steering the provision of health services and developing the Afghan public health system.

Within the frame of the short-term mission, m4h PR and communication expert, Dr. Wahidullah Mayar assessed the communication needs. Together with the MoPH, he developed a strategic communication framework and supported the MoPH in its implementation. In addition he has developed and implemented PR messages, conducted capacity building and orientation trainings for journalists in the COVID-19 risk communication, assisted the MoPH leadership and line departments in their PR responses to the disease, and supported the PR department to deal with the specific virus-related communication challenges.

Acting as a spokesperson to the MoPH, he has facilitated the flow of relevant information to decisionmakers and the general public. He has directly assisted the Minister of Public Health in his media presence on the coronavirus topic and in his work with high-level committees, in particular the Risk Communication Committee of the MoPH. He has represented the MoPH leadership in media events (including interviews, participation in TV talk shows). Being the PR focal point for the COVID-19 issues he has communicated with media, political authorities, opinion leaders, development partners and the public on the pandemic and contributes to different media/PR formats (press releases, articles, speeches, TV interviews, scripts etc.) on coronavirus control and related topics.