The centrality of communication in the first “Pandemic and Communication” Conference

The Covid-19 pandemic set the tone for the discussion with communication advisors usually working in the Health area. “Communication cannot be the end of the line”, an idea repeated by several speakers to defend the importance and centrality of communication, especially in times of crisis.

Diana Mendes, head of the Communication and PR division at the Directorate-General of Health, recognised the challenges in managing the balance between the calmness required for Risk Communication and the lack of knowledge that characterised the beginning of this pandemic crisis. Almost two years after the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2, the Communication professional admits that many of the challenges felt in 2020 persist and include, for example, the absence or multiplication of spokespeople or the difficulty in evaluating the communication campaigns promoted.

Rui Neves Moreira, advisor of the Centro Hospitalar Universitário do Porto, recalled the pandemic key moments from his institution’s communication, underlining the increased media presence of Hospital de São João. Representing the Portuguese Private Hospital Association, Nelson Soares highlighted the importance of this sector in the national panorama. Today, the number of private hospitals has already exceeded the number of public hospitals.

Romana Borja-Santos, the communication advisor to the President of the Portuguese Medical Association, referred to the creation of the Crisis Cabinet, in January 2020, as a crucial moment in the management of communication about the pandemic. According to this professional, this was the stage that allowed diversifying spokespeople.

Tiago Durães, Marketing and Communication Manager of the Lusíadas Saúde group, also noted the importance of alerting the population to the need for disease prevention and health promotion. Something he always considered in the communication management in the institution he represents.

Catherine Pereira, the Communication advisor of Hospital de Braga, underlined the lack of investment in human resources in communication.

The first edition of the “Pandemic and Communication” Conferences began today at the University of Minho and focused on the advisors’ perspective. This initiative was the first of a cycle of five seminars, the next one to take place on January 26, 2022, at CINTESIS/University of Porto, focusing on the journalists’ perspective.

The organizing committee included two CECS researchers, Felisbela Lopes and Rita Araújo, and also Olga Magalhães (CINTESIS), Clara Almeida Santos and Ana Teresa Peixinho (CEIS20), and Catarina Duff Burnay (CECC).

[Posted: 17-11-2021]