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Monday, March 27, 2023

COVID-19 highlights the need to strengthen health system governance at all levels

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A new joint publication by WHO/Europe and the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies explores governance issues during the COVID-19 pandemic and sets out clear lessons for improving the resilience of health systems in future crises.

“This special issue of Eurohealth brings together a collection of articles that examine different elements of governing the COVID-19 pandemic in the countries of the WHO European Region,” reads the joint editorial in the report. “These articles shed light on the achievements and progress made despite many unknowns during the early stages of the pandemic, and the challenges faced over a long-term emergency.”

One of the key takeaways of this special issue is that strengthening governance is not a top-down activity. Improved health system resilience requires strengthening governance at all levels and, crucially, the involvement of civil society and communities. The innovation shown and responsibility taken at the grassroots and local levels has been vital in the COVID-19 response, and a more formalized recognition of this will be key going forwards.

From public health leadership to the involvement of civil society

Opening with an editorial penned by Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe; Dr Natasha Azzopardi-Muscat, Director of Country Health Policies and Systems, WHO/Europe; Dr Dorit Nitzan, WHO/Europe’s Regional Emergency Director; as well as Dr Josep Figueras, Director, and Dr Matthias Wismar, Programme Manager, of the European Observatory, the special issue includes 10 articles.

These focus on different aspects of governance during the pandemic – leadership, health systems’ resilience and health workforce, among others. The articles issue a call to learn from the lessons of COVID-19 to strengthen governance in the Region now, as part of preparedness before the next health emergency.

The COVID-19 experience has provided many valuable lessons, including on pandemic strategies, and the need to address the social and economic determinants of health, while supporting the health workforce and working with the private sector and civil society.

Eurohealth is a journal that provides a forum for researchers, experts and policy-makers to express their views on health policy issues and contribute to constructive debate in Europe and beyond.

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