Collective Service Documentation


A Behavioural Playbook for Public Health Responses


The SBC team from the UNICEF MENA Regional Office initiated this playbook with support from The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) in collaboration with 10+ UNICEF Country Offices from across MENA and a cadre of independent experts and academics.

What is the Behavioural Playbook for Public Health Response?

Effective public health responses require a comprehensive range of policy solutions, including epidemiological and behavioural data, specific expertise in community engagement as well as social and behaviour change strategies, investment in healthcare systems, a well-trained and well-equipped workforce, reliable supply chains and coordinated public health and social measures.

This playbook focuses on Social and Behaviour Change (SBC) solutions to public health crises, drawing upon promising SBC initiatives that were deployed during the COVID-19 pandemic within the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The playbook has been created as a resource for practitioners within UNICEF and beyond, distilling lessons learned from the MENA region to shape more effective strategies for future responses to epidemics, pandemics and other types of health crises – using an SBC lens.

Effective public health responses also rest on a strong foundation of ‘preparedness’, which tends to be organised as a cycle of continuous activities rather than having a beginning and end point per se.

As a complement to this foundation, this playbook is structured along four general phases of response to a public health crisis:

  • Phase 1: Emergence of the Virus
  • Phase 2: Continuous Adaptation
  • Phase 3: Vaccine Rollout
  • Phase 4: Recovery and Integration

The SBC approach to the response in the MENA region was guided by the Regional Framework for Risk Communication and Community Engagement, which consisted of four interlinked pillars (i) localising, (ii) evidence (iii) capacity building and (iv) coordination. Accordingly, this playbook reflects the strategies and activities recommended in that framework, elaborated by case studies and additional insights gleaned from practical experience.

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COVID-19, Epidemics




emergency management, social science, Social and Behaviour Change (SBC)