Objective: To objectively assess the quality of “ crisis communication ” media, during the COVID-19 pandemic, in the three Greater Maghreb countries (Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco) .Methods: A compliance audit for press releases and epidemiological bulletins was analyzed against a quality benchmark, which had been specifically designed by the authors . This framework, made up of five dimensions and 50 items, graded (0/1), was applied by two researchers in preventive medicine . Multiplying the scores by a coefficient of two resulted in a partial score of 20 points for each dimension and a total score of 100 points for the checklist taken as a whole . The quality of the communication media was considered to be good when exceeding the thresholds of 15/20 for the different dimensions and 75/100 for the entire grid.
Results: A total of 141 information media were included in this audit (Tunisia : 60; Algeria : 60; Morocco : 21). The overall median quality score for these media was only 56/100 (IIQ: [46-58] ), without major variability between countries . The most appreciated dimension was “ maintaining the confidence of the population ”, with an overall median score of 14/20 (12/20 for epidemiological bulletins and 16/20 for press releases). The most poorly rated dimension was “ strengthening community participation ”, with a median score of only 4/20 (6/20 for epidemiological bulletins and 4/20 for press releases).Conclusion: The quality of the Maghreb crisis communication media during COVID-19 was insufficient in most of its dimensions and items, particularly from a psychosocial standpoint . Reinforcement of the capacities of communication officers to develop information material and supports during health crises is indispensable and should be considered as an urgent matter.