Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (884)

Holly Cairns

Question:

884. Deputy Holly Cairns asked the Minister for Health further to Parliamentary Question No. 214 of 17 September 2020, the number of officials engaged in actively listening to public views and concerns from the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic collating commentary on social and traditional media; the grade of each official; the way in which decision-making in his Department has been impacted by this process; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38524/20]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

WHO Outbreak Communication Planning Guides state that: “Understanding the public’s risk perceptions, views and concerns is critical to effective communication and the broader emergency management function it supports. Without knowing how people understand and perceive a given risk and what their existing beliefs and practices are, decisions and required behaviour changes necessary to protect health may not occur and societal or economic disruption may be more severe.”

Similarly, ECDC guidance issued in March 2020 stated the following: “In addition to informing the population about mandated measures, people should be strongly encouraged to take action at a personal level as a means of protecting themselves and others.... A monitoring system should also be put in place to observe public perceptions and opinions of the social distancing measures that people are being subjected to.” This guidance is available to read on the EDCD's website.

While the reviewing and monitoring of printed press, broadcast media and social media is an everyday workstream in my Departments press office, as per the guidance I have outlined, the Department of Health has actively listened to public views and concerns from the outset of this pandemic. The Department is also conducting surveys among the general public through the Amárach survey, published regularly on the Department’s website.

There are currently 3 press officers and 3 executive officers involved in this workstream.