Looking back, looking forward: lessons from COVID-19 communication measurement, evaluation and learning (MEL)
Keywords:COVID-19, measurement evaluation and learning, communication for health, C4H, risk communication, formative evaluation, process evaluation, summative evaluation
Problem: Communication is an integral component of an emergency response, including to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Designing effective communication requires systematic measurement, evaluation and learning.
Context: In the Western Pacific Region, the World Health Organization (WHO) responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by using the Communication for Health (C4H) approach. This included the development and application of a robust measurement, evaluation and learning (MEL) framework to assess the effectiveness of COVID-19 communication, and to share and apply lessons in real time to continuously strengthen the pandemic response.
Action: MEL was applied during the planning, implementation and summative evaluation phases of COVID-19 communication, with evidence-based insights and recommendations continuously integrated in succeeding phases of the COVID-19 response.
Lessons learned: This article captures good practices that helped WHO to implement MEL during the COVID-19 pandemic. It focuses on lessons from the evaluation process, including the importance of planning, data integration, collaboration, partnerships, piggybacking, using existing data and leveraging digital media.
Discussion: Despite some limitations, the systematic application of MEL to COVID-19 communication shows its value in the planning and implementation of effective, evidence-based communication to address public health challenges. It enables the evaluation of outcomes and reflection on lessons identified to strengthen the response to the current pandemic and future emergencies.