The National School of Public Health (ESDY) has a long history and has been one of the oldest Schools of Public Health in Europe. It was established in 1929 as the "Athens School of Hygiene" and has accumulated long-standing and high specialization in postgraduate education and research, so that major public health risks may be addressed.

The Department of Public & Administrative Health in the National School of Public Health was founded in 1931 soon after the establishment of the Athens School of Hygiene, aiming to implement restructuring measures, disease prevention and the provision of specialized scientific knowledge to maintain health, both for individuals and the larger population, as well as to establish a legal framework for the development of relevant public health services.

The Department has worked, in cooperation with international organizations (WHO, EU, Council of Europe) on health policy, public health and prevention of diseases that are related to behavior, non-communicable diseases, infectious diseases and epidemiological developments in specific public health areas. Furthermore, it has actively participated in scientific research regarding Public Health issues and the education and training of health professionals.

In May 2019, the National School of Public Health (ESDY) joined the University of West Attica (55 thousand students), as the Department of Public Health Policy, in the School of Public Health.

The vision of the Department of Public Health Policy is to be a leading player in the education, research, development and implementation of Public Health policies, strategies and programs, the effective management of modern health risk factors and the efficient operation of health and public health services, with the aim of improving the health and well-being of the population at local, regional, national and international level.

Currently, the Department of Public Health Policy is engaged in four main sectors:

A) Infectious, Parasitic and Zoonotic Diseases

B) Occupational and Environmental Health

C) Epidemiology, Prevention and Quality of Life (K. Merakou)

D) Systems in Health and Policy

e-Bug and SafeConsume

The Department of Public and Administrative Hygiene in the National School of Public Health has always been interested in Health Education and Promotion and has recognized the importance of adopting healthy behaviors by children and adolescents, so that these behaviors follow them in adulthood.

Therefore, since 2006, participation in the e-Bug project ( offered a perfect opportunity to address the issue of good practices in prevention and treatment of infections. A core team was formed by Jenny Kourea-Kremastinou, Kyriakoula Merakou, Anastasia Barbouni and Dimitra Gennimata and participated in all stages of the development, implementation and dissemination of e-Bug (an educational resource on microorganisms, prevention of infections, vaccines and prudent use of antibiotics) in Greece. The e-bug website has been endorsed by the Greek Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health and has been available to educators, students, health professionals and institutions in Greece, since 2011, mainly through the Greek e-Bug website (

Our cooperation in the SafeConsume project started in 2017, within the framework of the National School of Public Health (ESDY) and extended in 2019, through the transition of ESDY, becoming the Department of Public Health Policy, in the School of Public Health of the University of West Attica. The main incentives for our participation have been the extension of the Food Hygiene and Safety e-Bug educational resource to adolescents and young adults, as consumers and future opinion leaders and decision makers

The members of the team:

Kyriakoula Merakou

Professor Kyriakoula Merakou

Kyriakoula Merakou is a professor of Health Education & Promotion. She has been working in the field for over 25 years and has participated in the coordination of several Greek and European research and educational programs on health education and promotion, many of them in schools. For many years she has been teaching the course "Health Education and Promotion" in postgraduate programs in Public Health, at the former National School of Public Health and currently in the Department of Public Health Policy,School of Public Health, University of West Attica. She has participated in the coordination and organization, as well as teaching, in a large number of seminars for educators and health professionals on topics related to her field.

Her academic and research interests focus on health education and promotion methodology, planning of education and health promotion interventions, school health promotion, health promotion in the elderly and quality of life, positive health and well-being.

Anastasia Barbouni

Professor Anastasia Barbouni

Anastasia Barbouni is a paediatrician, has been Professor of Public Health at the National School of Public Health and, since 2019, she is a Professor of Public Health, Hygiene and Disease Prevention at the Department of Public and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of West Attica.

She has been a member of the National Vaccination Committee and the National Nutrition Policy Committee and a delegate on the Council of Europe Public Health Committee (CDSP).

She collaborates with international organizations in Europe and in the USA to study smoking as a habit in Greece and formulate a tobacco control strategy. She is also Vice President of the Hellenic Society of Public Health, a founding member of the International Society for Smoking Control and Reduction of Smoking Harm, a member of the Board of the Public Health Forum and a member of the Board of the Shipsan Association.

Her research interests cover the epidemiology of chronic diseases and the development of intervention programs and prevention.

Although, always a core member of our team, Anastasia has been assigned the post of the Professor in the Department of Public and Community Health and therefore remained in the SafeConsume project as vice-project manager and a valuable collaborator.

Dimitra Gennimata

Dr. Dimitra Gennimata

Dimitra Gennimata is a hospital pharmacist since 1996 and an external, often pro bono, scientific associate to the National School of Public Health since 2006. She has post graduate studies in Public Health (MPH thesis in Health Education and Promotion), Teaching and Counseling (Certificates from the School of Pedagogic and Technological Sciences) and her PhD thesis is in the field of Microbial Genetics and Clinical Pharmacology (Molecular Mechanisms of Microbial Resistance to Antibiotics). Therefore, she has been particularly interested in Public Health, having actively participated and been involved in relative European projects and fora (e-Bug –, EUNetPaS –, Medication compliance –, SIMPATHY –

What do you think will be the most important results from SafeConsume?

The results we expect to have are the awareness and acquisition of the suitable skills by the general population, including students and their families, as well as immigrant families - which is a difficult-to-reach population for this issue - through their school-age children.

The health of children and adolescents is especially important for maintaining the good health and quality of life for future adults. Our goal is to educate students through SafeConsume, using the developed educational tool to provide knowledge, change beliefs and attitudes and ultimately modify the behaviour of adolescents and future adults in terms of food hygiene and safety. Teachers are at the forefront of student education, so it is important to provide them with basic food training, which is what the SafeConsume package offers. It is well known that the power of influence of teachers in adolescents is great. This power can be used to facilitate both the shaping of healthy behaviours and the processing of information that adolescents acquire from parents, television, advertising, the Internet, and other sources, information that may not always help them build health and safety in food handling.

The implementation of the aforementioned proposed action plan, using the e-learning material-guide, can be done in a flexible way, at the discretion of the teachers, and is expected to contribute to the implementation in daily practice of the main messages concerning hygiene, separate storage, cooking and serving of food.

useful microbes peer education

What is your best advice to consumers on how to reduce the risks of foodborne illness?

It is a fact that ensuring food hygiene and safety requires the participation of all consumers, whatever their position or role in the "food user journey" (purchase, transport, storage, preparation, cooking, and serving). Therefore, the message that food safety is a shared responsibility must be a matter of conscience and personal responsibility for each of us.

Main messages provided to students and consumers in general, through SafeConsume, are SOS messages on Food Hygiene and Safety and adoption of practices on how to remain healthy, breaking every step on the chain of transmission of foodborne infections:

1. Store food properly (any contact between raw food and cooked food should be avoided),

2. Wash hands with warm soapy water before preparing, cooking and serving food.

3. Thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables with clean water, especially if they are not going to be cooked, but do not wash meat.

4. Avoid contamination from kitchen utensils (knives, dishes, sponges, kitchen towels, etc.) by carefully washing them with detergents between their usages on different foods.

5. Follow the cooking and reheating instructions (appropriate time, temperature) for the food to be eaten cooked.

6. Clean the inside and outside surfaces of the refrigerator and kitchen frequently.

hand hygiene peer education

The effects of SARS-CoV-2 on our activities

The delays in the implementation and evaluation of the educational resource in schools and distance learning difficulties that arise for educators and students are negatively affecting our activities in the project. However, we remain optimistic that such barriers could be overcome by the effective vaccination against COVID-19 in Greece and the world, so that we manage to fulfil these important parts of the project.

vaccines peer education