Household water treatment mural, Clara Town Health Centre, Monrovia, Liberia. Photo credit: Simon Lawson 2012 (CC BY 4.0)
Fear can be effective at driving preventative behaviour change in the short term, but is a poor motivator for sustainable behaviour change.
This is a key lesson learnt from emergency responses to epidemics, such as cholera and Ebola virus disease, and the typical emergency approach to communications.
Sooner or later disease outbreaks run their course.
As fear of the disease abates, preventative behaviours promoted during the emergency – such as handwashing with soap and household water treatment (e.g. with Aquatabs) – decline, and all too often donated emergency supplies disappear.
This leaves communities vulnerable to, and ill prepared for, new outbreaks.