ECDC Summer School 2022: Emerging challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic
Public health ethics, risk communication and the European framework for tackling cross-border health threats. These were the three themes of the 2022 edition of the ECDC European Summer School.
The three-day training course brought together 48 public health professionals from 28 EU, EEA and ENP countries and focused on the challenges and lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first day was dedicated to the many ethical issues faced by healthcare professionals and health authorities. Efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus raised difficult ethical questions about proportionality when restricting the individual rights of the broader public. Speakers and participants discussed the many ethical dilemmas and how to deal with them in practice during a public health crisis.
On day two, participants focused on the concept of risk communication which throughout the pandemic constituted a key challenge for national and international health authorities. Representatives from ECDC and Member States explained how the flow of conflicting information initially made it very difficult for the public to understand and access real health risks.
Key risk communication techniques, such as social listening, two-way communication, and targeted messaging were highlighted as efficient means to reach and influence public perceptions and behaviours.
How to improve the capability of public healthcare systems to prevent and respond to public health emergencies was the theme of the third and last day of the training course. The ECDC`s role in monitoring and assessing public health threats in Europe during the pandemic as well as the structure and aims of the EU Health Task Force were explained.
The training consisted of presentations in plenary as well as practical exercises in small groups, where participants discussed and came up with solutions to real life scenarios related to public health ethics, risk communication and cross-border health threats.
The ECDC Summer School is an annual event for public health experts within the ECDC network. It aims to build and further develop the EU/EEA Member States` public health capacity in the field of communicable diseases.
Selection of participants was done either through official invitation letters to national focal points or by direct invitation to MediPIET supervisors who were one of the audiences of this training.