ECDC activities in health communication
From the basis in the regulation, the ECDC activities in the area of health communication have three directions:
- Efficiently communicate the scientific and technical output of the ECDC to professional audiences.
- Communicating key public health messages and information to the media and to the European public.
- Support the development of Member States communication capacities.
Responsible for these activities is the Communication and Country Cooperation Unit.
Efficiently communicate the scientific and technical output of the ECDC to professional audiences
The main scientific output from ECDC is disseminated through the technical and scientific reports, which are authored by internal and external experts. To give maximum visibility to the reports, there is often a launch event with an interactive “webinar”, in which scientists and journalists around Europe have the opportunity to ask questions from and comment to a panel of authors having produced the report.
The reports and other scientific output of the Centre are available on the ECDC portal. The new web portal launched in 2009 will be the common gateway to all ECDC scientific resources, including providing access to information in databases such as the ECDC surveillance database (TESSy).
As of March 2007, the journal Eurosurveillance is hosted by ECDC. Eurosurveillance is published in an online weekly version with short rapid communications and longer surveillance and research articles. All longer and many of the shorter articles are also published on paper in a quarterly print compilation. The journal covers all aspects of communicable disease epidemiology, prevention and control from a European perspective, and the electronic releases have around 15,000 subscribers.
Communicating key public health messages and information to the media and to the European public
It is a huge task to reach out to the 500 million citizens of the EU. The health problems and concerns also differ from country to country. ECDC therefore works closely with the national authorities to have maximum impact of its public health messages. To be directly accessible by people in all the EU Member States, the Centre is setting up a multilingual website in all official EU languages, as well as Norwegian and Icelandic. The multilingual website will contain general information on the Centre and some basic disease facts. The multilingual content will gradually grow over the coming years.
Press and other media is another important channel to reach the EU citizens. ECDC is therefore proactively working with the media. Procedures are in place for timely consultations with the European Commission and the Member States to promote coherence in the risk communication.
Support the development of Member States health communication capacities
ECDC is supporting Member States communications activities by providing training in health communication skills (including risk and crisis communication), bringing in the communication science perspectives through ECDC country support, and gradually building a knowledge and resource centre on health communication that can support country communication activities focused on communicable diseases.