4 November 2020

The World Health Organization (WHO) is developping a decision-making framework in collaboration with other partners. It will be launched during the UN General Assembly special session on COVID-19 which will be held in early December 2020.

By Edith Patouillard, Andrew Mirelman, Tessa Tan-Torres Edejer, Agnès Soucat

Across the world, policy makers are implementing measures to limit the spread of COVID-19, protect the health care system and people’s health.  While there is no vaccine against the virus and limited treatment options, public health and social measures contribute to prevent or slow virus transmission. The range of these measures is wide and cover individual, institutions, communities and/or national levels. 

Of focus here are the social measures or actions aiming at reducing the risk of introducing or spreading infections in various community settings by ensuring physical distancing, including adapting or closing schools, offices, businesses, institutions and operations; restricting, cancelling or adapting public gatherings and/or private home or outside reunions; and, suspending or restricting domestic or international population movements.  Whilst these measures are opportunities to buy time for the public health response, they can have unintended socio-economic consequences, notably for the most vulnerable. 

Addressing the health crisis while considering the socio-economic outcomes of social and movement measures is a complex decision to be made by policy makers, and a systematic and inclusive framework for decision making that considers present and future implications for both lives and livelihoods is needed. 

The WHO Secretariat will coordinate the development of a decision framework that incorporates public health, economic and procedural dimensions to support policy makers address these complex decisions to respond to COVID-19.  Where possible, the framework will be supplemented by testimonials from policy makers who have been involved in making decisions involving social and movement measures to respond to COVID-19 in order to illustrate contextual and practical experiences.  

The decision framework will be launched during the UN General Assembly special session on COVID-19 which will be held in early December 2020.

Please write to us regarding which key issues you think need to be addressed within a decision framework for COVID-19 social and movement measures, that incorporates public health, economic and procedural dimensions, or if you would like to share specific examples of decision-making processes with us (examples that will be used will be acknowledged). For example:  

  1. Which health and economic and other considerations/principles should be included when making decisions on social and movement measures? 
  2. How do health and economic considerations influence the type, scope and intensity, and duration of social and movement measures?  
  3. Which key country contextual specificities should inform and complement the decision-making process?
  4. What are the procedural aspects that are important to be observed when making such decisions (e.g. inclusions of which stakeholders? degree of transparency in making decisions, the role of data? etc.)

You can write to whochoice@who.int by 15 November 2020.  Thank you very much! 

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