Public and community engagement will continue to be central to both the healthcare and biomedical research response to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Below are a series of resources to support engagement work with a focus on resource-limited settings.

Community Engagement Tools

Communications, Engagement & Behaviour Change Guidance


Research & Ethics Hubs

Webinar Recordings

General Resources - CE in Epidemic Preparedness and Response 

Community Engagement Tools

WHO guidelines on Good Participatory Practice for Trials of Emerging Pathogens (GPP-EP)

GPP-EP were prepared in 2016 by the WHO to support prevention and treatment trials of emerging (and re-emerging) pathogens that were likely to cause severe outbreaks. The guidelines address how to engage community stakeholders and promote ethical standards throughout the research process

Minimum quality standards and indicators in community engagement

With the support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF C4D has developed these standards to provide globally established guidance on the can action

Community Health Club Training Resources on COVID-19

Africa AHEAD has developed a draft toolkit to help prompt discussions about practical ways for community members to deal with Coronavirus. These visual aids were created for use in Zimbabwe so would need to be adapted for other contexts. Please take note of the disclaimer on the page and contact Africa AHEAD if you'd like the images to be altered for another country or context

Animated resources explaining COVID-19 vaccine trials

These illustrated slides have been used for engaging stakeholders and the wider public in Kenya on a range of trial aspects. They give a simplified scientific explanation of vaccine development, including the sequence and timeline for clinical studies, ethical review and randomisation. The slides are designed to be easily modifiable, so local scripts and narration can be added to make them relevant to different contexts. They can also be exported in MP4 video format

COVID-19: Guide to community engagement at a distance

This short guide is designed to assist development and humanitarian agencies to think through how risk communication and community engagement activity related to Covid-19 can be carried out without face-to-face interaction with communities. Download the guide in Bangla or English

Multilingual COVID-19 Information Videos

AfricArxiv is a free, open source and community-led digital archive for African research. They are growing series of 2-minute videos in as many languages as possible that present a consistent message about COVID-19, containment strategies and practical health information 

Communications, Engagement & Behaviour Change Guidance

WHO Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) technical guidance: Risk communication and community engagement

This technical guidance from the WHO provides a series of publications supporting risk communication, community engagement and addressing social stigma and mental health considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak

The Community Engagement Hub: COVID-19 Resources

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has developed a hub to share our information, knowledge and resources about community engagement and accountability. Their COVID-19 area provides tools and resources to help incorporate community engagement and accountability into COVID-19 humanitarian operations

The COVID-19 Communication and Community Engagement HUB aims to convene the communication and media development, social and behavioural change community for more effective local, national, and international development action. They have a dedicated COVID-19 hub with shared materials and knowledge

COVID-19: Resources for Social and Behaviour Change

The Compass is a curated collection of social and behavior change (SBC) resources. This special Trending Topic of SBC resources contains links to a vast array of data, infographics and guidance on topics such as risk communication, rumours and misinformation and stigma  


COVID-19 Africa Rapid Grant Fund

South Africa's National Research Foundation (NRF) with international partners has announed the COVID-19 Africa Rapid Grant Fund. The scheme seeks to contribute to the African regional and continental response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The call covers three strands: i) research, ii) science engagement: call to science and health journalists and communicators, and iii) science engagement: call to science advisers. Closing date: 17th June 2020

Research & Ethics Hubs

PHEPREN (Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Ethics Network)

PHEPREN is a global community of bioethicists building on pre-existing expertise and resources to provide real-time, trusted, contextual support to communities, policy makers, researchers, and responders in relation to the ethical issues arising out of global health emergencies, with a current focus on the COVID-19 pandemic

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak: Research Knowledge Hub

This new hub on The Global Health Network aims to ensure that research teams can find the support, tools, resources and guidance that they need to aid their studies during the rapidly evolving situation. This includes links to universal ethical standards as well as key resources and tools to ensure ethical research during the COVID-19 outbreak


U.S-based non-profit AVAC, is offering a useful set of webinars and resources looking at how rapid COVID-19 research can benefit from the lessons learned in the fight against HIV - including the importance of applying good participatory practice guidelines to ensure research is effective and inclusive


The COVID-19 Clinical Research Coalition

A group of scientists, physicians, funders, and policy makers from over 70 institutions from over 30 countries have launched an international coalition to respond to COVID-19 in resource-poor settings. They aim to accelerate research in those areas where the virus could wreak havoc on already-fragile health systems and cause the greatest health impact on vulnerable populations. Find out more in their Lancet article HERE


Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (EPI) Platform

A new platform set up by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI). It is under development and aims to bring together knowledge, tools and methods to support vaccine researchers, developers, funders and anybody working on or interested in the field of epidemic preparedness innovations


Webinar recordings

Science communication and the COVID-19 crisis (PCST Network, 26 May 2020) 

Conducting Community Engagement During a Public Health Emergency: Lessons learnt from the Ebola response (AVAC: Global Advocacy for HIV, 9th June 2020)

Working together to beat COVID-19: engaging and involving patients and public - webinars 1 & 2 (International PPI Network: Learning Live webinar series, June 2020)

Webinar 1 - CLICK HERE

Part 1: COVID-19 & public engagement - an NIHR perspective
Part 2: Cochrane rapid reviews of evidence and the consumer rapid response group
Part 3: COVID-19 & public engagement - a patient's perspective

Webinar 2 - CLICK HERE

Part 1: COVID-19 Core Outcomes Set Project
Part 2: Responding to COVID19 - an Australian perspective
Part 3: Engagement in the time of COVID-19: Experiences from Vietnam

Beyond 'good enough': How to engage communities with COVID-19 research quickly & effectively (Epidemics Ethics, 15th June 2020)

Community Engagement for COVID prevention and control: Learning from previous epidemics and current country experiences (The Community Health Community of Practice, 26 June 2020)


General Resources - Epidemic Preparedness and Response

The broader theme area on Mesh brings together resources related to engagement before, during and after an epidemic occurs - both in the context of humanitarian and biomedical research responses. It features documents that offer high-level justification for why engagement is important in an epidemic situation, as well as practical guides and tools on how to implement engagement activities in these circumstances. 

The resources were collated by Siân Aggett in January 2019. To read more about how the resources have been categorised, please click here.


In the time-pressured period when an epidemic outbreak is imminent, well-designed engagement programmes can support a contextually appropriate response effort, drawing upon and building local capacities, ensuring sensitivity to local practices and understandings of health and ensuring that those participating as patients or research subjects do so in an empowered and consensual way. However, there can be a complex array of actors, terminologies and motivations driving engagement initiatives. Sometimes different response programmes or even individuals within these programmes can have perspectives that sit in tension with each other. For example, some feel that given the need for quick action during an outbreak, there is a justification for ‘top down’ and instructive approaches that relay health related behaviours. For others, the emphasis might be on trying to understand the context and to collaborate with community members in programme design and roll out. Many see both sides of the argument and debate continues as to what is both effective and ethical. Given this lack of ‘internal’ consensus and clarity, it can be difficult for engagement practitioners to know how best to justify and co-ordinate community engagement around epidemics especially given the enormity of local needs felt. 

Whilst it makes sense that different actors coordinate their efforts and have crosscutting lessons for each other, they may have unique concerns. Community engagement associated with a biomedical research programme is likely to be partly driven by concerns connected to unique ethical and regulatory codes such as concern for informed consent and freedom of choice. A humanitarian organisation might be more focused on other challenges such as diagnosis or vaccine hesitancy and minimising the economic impact of the outbreak. On the other hand, a civil society organisation might be most concerned with advocating the needs of the marginalised and vulnerable to decision makers. For ease of navigation materials have been divided by corresponding categories.

The resources are also organised according to stage of the outbreak be it whether there is a risk of an outbreak, in which an outbreak is imminent or where an outbreak has recently taken place. This can have a big impact on your engagement aims and approach given the different social and political concerns and voices and organisations that will be active.

For a more detailed map of our resources, download this PDF.

To submit content to feature in these theme area, click here.