Politicians love Twitter. The average politician will Tweet far more than they speak in their legislature; on average, Twitter-using legislators in the UK Tweet 70 times a month. Even unelected senior officials, like Chief Execs of national health services, use Twitter to broadcast good news and achievements.
Using media monitoring software, we conducted a social listening exercise to identify what health policymakers across Europe have been tweeting about this year, and to understand the issues which are front of mind.
While COVID-19 was a common theme across Europe, it dominated German social conversation to the greatest extent. Conversations about booster vaccinations were particularly prominent; Health Minister Karl Lauterbach’s cautious approach to COVID-19 might be controversial with some, such as the liberal Free Democrats, but it has the noisy support of other centre-left parties.
Italy and Spain: COVID-19 recovery plans
EU-funded recovery plans such as Italy’s NPRR (National Recovery and Resilience Plan) and Spain’s ‘Plan de Recuperació’featured. Regional health ministers in Italy were particular fans.
Brussels: Refugee health
The Commission’s health leaders, Sandra Gallina and Stella Kyriakides (Director General and Commissioner for Health and Food Safety respectively) have been tweeting frequently about the health needs of refugees – prompted by the number of people fleeing the war in Ukraine. By comparison, European Parliamentarians tweeted more about cancer and the future of healthcare.
France: Healthcare professionals
Given the planned changes to general practitioner ‘zoning’ in France and the pressure healthcare professionals are under post-pandemic, it’s unsurprising that a big Twitter theme across both politicians and Director Generals of France’s health agencies is dialogue with professional associations.
New Health Minister and former emergency clinician François Braun has launched a “flash mission” in response to the strain that emergency care services are under. The mission includes adapted pathways and triaging processes, and was a set of recommendations Braun made before he was in Government. The results of this flash mission will be evaluated in September 2022 so that learnings can shape the 2023 Social Security budget.
Braun also introduced a pilot scheme for pharmacies to administer monkeypox vaccinations. To date, 220 vaccine centres in France have rolled out more than 70,000 doses of the vaccine and this was expected to have risen to over 140,000 doses by 4 September. France’s roll-out has been impressive: individuals from countries such as Belgium, Switzerland, Spain and Italy have been crossing borders to access the vaccine.
Public Health France, in its latest ‘Health in Action’ journal, focuses on the introduction of ‘health mediators’ to the wider health system. Instead of solely helping patients overcome barriers to accessing specific services, it is proposed that these mediators play a more holistic role in access to care, as well as health promotion and disease prevention.
The Council of Ministers has approved a draft law for the creation of a State Public Health Agency (Agencia Estatal de Salud Pública – AESAP). While the Spanish Government is presenting this as a reform rooted in the COVID-19 pandemic, AESAP will also have responsibilities for non-communicable diseases through monitoring, evaluating, and supporting interventions under the Health Promotion and Prevention Strategy. This emphasises health promotion in pregnancy, parenthood and old age, aligned to the European Innovation Partnership for Active and Healthy Ageing.
Election time – the next couple of months are going to be busy…
|Following British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s resignation, the Conservative Party have elected Liz Truss as leader of the party and therefore Prime Minister of the UK
Liz Truss has since appointed Thérèse Coffey as Secretary of State for Health and Social Care
|Following Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s resignation in July and the dissolution of the current Italian Parliament, Italy will be electing his successor on 25 September
According to polls, Brothers of Italy and the centre-left Democratic Party are leading
|A general election will take place on 1 October in Latvia
Currently the Harmony party (Social Democratic) are in power
According to polls, New Unity (liberal conservative) are currently in the lead, followed by National Alliance (right-wing populist and national conservative)
|Following three Bulgarian general elections in 2021, a fourth will take place on 2 October
Leading in the polls are the current centre-right party in power, Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB)
|A presidential election will take place on 9 October in Austria
The current president, Alexander Van Den Bellen of the Green Party, is currently leading in the polls
If, similarly to the last election, no candidate wins a majority in the first round, a run-off will be held
Senior Account Manager
Noah is the brains behind our newsletter, and previously worked for a Member of the European Parliament. He’s an unashamed health policy nerd and has his finger on the pulse of UK and European developments.
Charlotte is well versed in European policy, having studied Governance, Economics and Development in The Hague, the heart of European justice and political capital of the Netherlands.
Senior Account Executive
Neil holds an MA in Geopolitics and Grand Strategy, and before joining MHP worked for the European Committee of the Regions in Brussels.
Beth recently joined the MHP team following her master’s degree in Global Public Health.
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