Community and institutional public health emergency preparedness synergies - enablers and barriers

Technical report

In order to assess how communities are involved in the public health response for outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis, ECDC developed a case study project in two EU/EEA countries: Ireland and Iceland. Lessons learned from this project confirm the importance of recognising the community as a key partner in public health emergency preparedness and response.

Executive summary

This report summarises the findings of two case studies regarding community preparedness for outbreaks of acute gastroenteritis, based in Iceland and Ireland. It is part of a wider ECDC case study project to investigate the synergies between communities affected by serious public health threats and the institutions (both health- and non-health-related) that are mandated to prepare for and respond to them. Developed within the context of EU Decision 1082/2013/EU on serious cross-border threats to health, the premise for the project is that affected communities are increasingly recognised as key resources in public health emergencies, and that the concerns and experiences of ordinary people should be harnessed as an important part of the response.

Work in Iceland focused on an outbreak of norovirus that emerged during an international scouting event in August 2017. In Ireland, the case study examined verocytotoxin-producing Escherichia coli (VTEC) as a wider public health issue, but also with a particular focus on a single outbreak that occurred at a childcare facility in mid-2018.

Specifically, the studies aimed to:

  • identify which practices and patterns of cooperation between affected communities and the institutions mandated to address health threats have worked well, and which have not;
  • identify and analyse inter-sectoral collaboration as well as community-institutional synergies, and provide examples of collaborative efforts between health and non-health-related sectors.

This aggregated report is published together with the reports of the two country case studies:

Already in 2018, ECDC published the results of a case study project in the area of community preparedness for emerging tick-borne diseases in two EU countries: Spain and the Netherlands. The results of those case studies are available