IPPO Response to World Health Organisation’s Second Round of Public Hearings on Pandemic

Jeremy Williams

Here at IPPO, we mobilise global knowledge to address the social impacts of Covid.

The pandemic offers us an opportunity to reflect on how policies and interventions can mitigate against a catastrophe.

We need to learn the lessons of Covid, both for future pandemics, and for the big, global challenges which are already looming large.

To meet these challenges, we need to respond with policy which is both creative and informed by evidence.

And to be prepared, we need to understand two things: which interventions work, and how we define success.

One of our key reflections on Covid is about the type of evidence that was used by governments.

During the pandemic, policy was often informed by quite a narrow body of evidence, one dominated by epidemiology.

In the heat of the initial response, this was perhaps understandable.

However, the difficulty of defining success in terms of broader outcomes and metrics has become apparent.

Not using evidence from other areas – such as mental health, or economic impact – may well have led to policies being implemented that lacked balance or cohesion.

It is essential that we improve our systems for providing scientific evidence and advice to incorporate broader sets of knowledge and experience.

We need to recognise that the responses often involved complex decision-making by multiple actors.  Learning lessons about the way different actors worked together to achieve positive outcomes is crucial.

Finally, we need to remember that while policy happens at the national level, science itself is international.  And that there is a lot to learn in sharing evidence and experiences across national boundaries.