Monday, July 10, 2006

European Public View on Avian Flu
The European Union has undertaken a Eurobarometer Poll about its citizens' awareness of the Avian Flu. They've just released e Special Report on their findings, which can be downloaded as a PDF document here. It is really very interesting.
I copy here their conclusions, but I urge you to read the whole text.
The study had three main objectives: to determine the level of knowledge of citizens
with regard to the health risks linked to both avian influenza and the policies designed to fight the spread of the virus, and finally to gain an insight intochanges in consumer behaviour in view of declared, real and intended changes in this area.
The results show that the respondents generally have a very good knowledge of the health risks linked to avian influenza. The average of correct answers by European Union citizens regarding the statements testing their knowledge of the contamination process was
66%.
It can be assumed that the information campaigns organised were to a great
extent successful
and provided clear information about the health risks involved.
This level of knowledge seems to be somewhat higher in the countries that were
affected by the virus
, in particular France, Germany, Denmark and Poland.
The second part of the report shows that, as regards the knowledge of EU policies adopted to fight the spread of the virus and support poultry meat producers, between 58% and 70% of correct answers were reported amongst EU25 citizens, which demonstrate, again, a relative success of information campaigns. Nevertheless, only 29% of Europeans remember that influenza epidemic of 2003 was successfully contained.
If EU institutions and national public authorities wish to increase further the knowledge of citizens regarding important issues, such as the health risks linked to avian influenza and the policies designed to fight them, they should focus on improving communication strategies targeting less educated people and people without a professional activity. These categories are clearly less well informed about the risks linked to the virus and about the EU policies
launched to contain the epidemic.
European Union citizens are not very fearful of contamination through the
consumption of poultry, eggs and egg-based products. More than three quarters of
EU25 citizens (78%) declared that they had not decreased their consumption of poultry
meat compared to six months before the poll. A large proportion number of EU25 citizens
declared they ate the same number of eggs (83%) and quantity of egg-based products
(85%) as six months before the poll.
The last part of the report demonstrated that European citizens believe that the information
provided by the media was clear and that their health was the main concern of the EU public
authorities. Nearly two-thirds of EU25 citizens interviewed declared that media
information on avian influenza was clear (60% compared to 34% who thought the
media were not clear) and that the European Union public authorities are sincerely
concerned about the health of EU citizens (70% compared to 21%).

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