On 29 April 2021, Work Package 2 of the SHARP Joint Action held a webinar exploring the themes and key strategy areas set out in the WHO EU COVID-19 Fatigue framework.

The event was attended by over 60 participants from across the EU and neighbouring countries with a strong mix of epidemiologists, public health practitioners and communications professionals. The session included presentations from framework co-author Katrine Bach Habersaat and partner countries who explored the different ways they had delivered on each of the key strategy areas.

“Coming together to share ideas and best practice is such an important part of improving preparedness and response planning and it was great to see such a wealth of inspiration and indeed a level of innovation in approaches to a truly modern pandemic of the digital age“, says Huw Cook, the webinar organiser and host from Public Health Wales.

“It was clear from the presentations and conversations that existing inequalities have been brought to the forefront by the pandemic. This was a great opportunity to discuss more equitable approaches to risk communication that can help close the health gap”, Cook continues.

Opening the session Bach Habersaat introduced the emerging evidence around COVID-19 fatigue and explained why the framework was created and why it is important that countries incorporate these approaches into their risk communication planning. You can watch Bach Haberstaat’s full presentation here and download the slides here.

This was followed by a series of short topical presentations and discussions that explored practical applications of the key strategy areas set out in the framework, including:

  • 5 Cross cutting principles
  • Understanding and engaging people
  • Enabling people to live their lives while reducing risks
  • Acknowledging hardships and barriers

This also included an interactive reflection exercise on the delivery of the 10 recommendations set out in the framework. See the results below.

Participants were asked to respond on a sliding scale (from left to right) of Needs a lot of Improvement, Needs to be improved, Satisfactory, Good and Excellent.

Presenters and their topics

Leah Morantz is Head of Communications and Stakeholder engagement at Public Health Wales.

Morantz explored how the team at Public Health Wales had enshrined the 5 cross-cutting principles from the framework  across their pandemic response work; placing  a particular emphasis on the benefits of this approach after a year of COVID-19 Communications.  You can watch the full presentation here and download the slides here.

Anna-Leena Lohiniva is a cultural anthropologist and public health professional at the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare

Lohiniva discussed the impact of data analysis around public perceptions and how it can be used to tailor approaches to COVID-19 fatigue and risk communications in the broader sense. You can watch the full presentation here and download the slides here.

Dr Tanya Melillo is a Public Health consultant heading the infectious disease prevention and control unit in Malta for 13.5 years. Charmaine Zahra is a Specialist Trainee in Public Health Medicine at the Ministry for Health, Malta.

Together they explored how making the most of every engagement opportunity had helped identify the barriers faced by people across Malta. During the presentation and subsequent questions they explained how insights gathered from contact tracing calls helped inform signposting to the relevant support services particularly for vulnerable population groups. You can watch the full presentation here and download the slides here.

Huw Cook is a Communications Officer at Public Health Wales.

During Cook’s presentation he talked through an example of how Public Health Wales had worked in partnership to promote a Safe Ramadan in Wales. He detailed the decision making process, how partners were identified and what new approaches had enhanced the coproduction process. You can watch the full presentation here and download the slides here.

You can also watch the whole webinar including the final plenary session here.

Further materials and evidence discussed throughout the presentations can also be found here.

Any ideas of suggestions for future risk communications webinars from SHARP Joint Action? Please don’t hesitate get in touch at sharp@thl.fi