Thursday, 19 November 2020
Saincheisteanna Tráthúla - Topical Issue Debate
I again thank Deputy Higgins for raising this important issue. I welcome all the input on what is an evolving communications programme. I thank the Deputy because she has put a huge amount of work into preparing for this debate and pointing out where she feels there are some shortcomings in the advertising campaign.
From the outset of this pandemic, the communication objective, as guided by the World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control has been to build trust in the public health advice through open and transparent communication. My Department and the HSE are committed to continuing the campaigns that have been so effective in driving down the incidence of Covid in our communities. From the early campaigns focused on at-risk groups, proactive actions individuals can take to encouraging people to visit their GPs and emergency departments, it is clear that this considered messaging is working.
I cannot overstate how much the response to this disease is in our own hands. The main tool we have to help protect against the virus is adherence to the public health guidelines but I take on board the points the Deputy has made in respect of the €150,000 online advertising budget, the ratio of posts, for example, as between Twitter and TikTok, and the amount of young people who use the latter platform and others mentioned. I will certainly feed back the Deputy's information and data to the advertising section of the Department and the HSE. I again thank the Deputy for the time she has spent on this.