Crowd of people gathering at Liverpool Pier Head

Eurovision 2023: Public Health Takes Centre Stage

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Liverpool’s Director of Public Health, Professor Matt Ashton, looks back at the unforgettable Eurovision 2023 Festival in Liverpool — a celebration of music, culture, and public health

The curtains have closed on the record-breaking Eurovision 2023 finale, held in Liverpool. After a spectacular two-week celebration, the city and the world look back on this monumental cultural event. Not only did it draw an unprecedented number of viewers, according to the BBC, but it also attracted 500,000 visitors to Liverpool, far surpassing the anticipated 100,000. In addition to its entertainment value, the event successfully integrated a strong public health focus.

My team and I collaborated closely with the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) in planning the event, ensuring that health protection considerations were woven into every aspect of the operation, both at the Arena and in the Euro Village. Our efforts included promoting risk management, infection control, and responsible attendance, as well as providing free water whenever needed.

Negotiating commercial partnerships was challenging but necessary to balance customer appeal, financial viability, and health-conscious options. Our collective efforts successfully culminated in the installation of a free water stations at the entrance to the Euro Village, marking a significant step forward in our ongoing commitment to not only promoting healthier options for our community members, but also addressing the global issue of plastic waste. By encouraging the use of reusable water bottles, we reduced single-use plastic consumption, which in turn helped to minimise the environmental impact of the event.

From a health promotion standpoint, we actively engaged in sexual health outreach and an innovative healthy hearts campaign. Our sexual health providers, Axess, PaSH, and Sahir House, conducted outreach at various venues throughout the Eurovision Festival. They distributed over 10,000 condom packs in the fan village and 15,000 safe sex packs at other venues. They also engaged in 100 in-depth conversations about sexual health and wellbeing, and their social media messaging reached thousands of people.

In collaboration with the Pumping Marvellous Foundation and volunteer nurses from Liverpool Heart and Chest Foundation Trust and Liverpool Hospitals Trust, we raised awareness of heart health. Over three days, our team tested over 350 individuals for blood pressure and heart rhythm and provided information on heart failure risks and warning signs, and resulting in the identification of 3 people with new Atrial Fibrillation, 10 people with heart failure symptoms, and 25-30 people with raised BP.  The positive reception from the public has encouraged Pumping Marvellous to continue working with us in the future.

Pumping Marvellous Foundation at Eurovision

Whilst the full impact of Eurovision 2023 on the city and the region has yet to be determined, early indications show increased positivity among residents and a boost in business for the city centre. Amidst a global community grappling with numerous challenges, the economic impact of Eurovision offered a much-needed respite and a chance to reflect on the silver linings that emerge from adversity. The event brought together our vibrant city, its visitors, and an entire continent in celebration, fostering mental health and wellbeing through shared experiences.

Eurovision’s cultural explosion served as a reminder that we are all in this together, providing hope and support for those feeling alone. The exposure allowed us to refocus on the present moment, embrace its vibrancy, and learn from the experience.

As a community renowned for its hospitality, hosting Eurovision filled our citizens with a sense of pride and generosity. The resulting gratitude and increased self-worth have the potential to uplift the entire population. Additionally, the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Culture Liverpool enabled over 60 local organisations to participate in spreading the Eurovision magic, further enhancing wellbeing throughout the Liverpool City Region.

The success of Eurovision 2023 has proven that Liverpool can excel on the world stage, demonstrating the importance of public health as a key ingredient in any successful event.

Liverpool Waterfront