London: Although some governments have moved on, specific efforts and resources are still required to save lives as SARS-CoV-2 continues to circulate among us, a new study has said. Focus on saving lives through continued efforts and resources is one of the six main themes for action identified by a large panel of multidisciplinary experts from over 100 countries to recommend actions to end COVID-19 as a public health threat.
Three of the highest-ranked recommendations are adopting a whole-of-society strategy that involves multiple disciplines, sectors and actors to avoid fragmented efforts; adopting whole-of-government approaches (e.g. coordination between ministries) to identify, review, and address resilience in health systems and make them more responsive to people’s needs; and maintaining a vaccines-plus approach, which includes a combination of COVID-19 vaccination, other structural and behavioural prevention measures, treatment, and financial support measures.
The panellists also prioritised recommendations for developing technologies, such as vaccines, therapies and services, that can reach target populations.
Other recommendations by the study, published in the journal Nature, with at least 99 per cent agreement are communicating effectively with the public, rebuilding public trust, and engaging communities in managing the pandemic response, the study said.
Only six recommendations had more than 5 per cent disagreement including one which considers further economic incentives to address vaccine hesitancy or a symptoms approach to diagnose COVID-19 in settings with low access to testing, it said.
It added that over 180 organisations from 72 countries have already endorsed the findings of the consensus study, which was led by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by “la Caixa” Foundation, a not-for-profit banking foundation based in Catalonia, Spain. The 57 recommendations are directed at governments, health systems, industry, and other key stakeholders.
Quique Bassat, co-author of the study and member of the University of Barcelona said,
To the greatest degree possible, our results place emphasis on health and social policy recommendations that can be implemented in months, not years, to help bring this public health threat to an end.
Jeffrey V Lazarus, coordinator of the study, said,
Our study does echo some earlier recommendations, such as the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response and WHO’s 2022 plan on Strategic Preparedness. But what makes this work unique is the very large number of experts consulted, the wide geographical representation and the study design, which emphasises consensus building and identifies areas of disagreement. It may prove to be a model for developing responses to future global health emergencies.
To develop a global consensus on how to address these issues going forward, Mr. Lazarus and his colleagues carried out a Delphi study, a well-established research methodology that challenges experts to garner consensus on answers to complex research questions.
The Delphi technique, in the health sciences, relies on a panel of experts and is primarily used by researchers when the available knowledge is incomplete or subject to uncertainty and other methods that provide higher levels of evidence cannot be used.
The aim of the method is to collect expert-based judgments and often to use them to identify consensus. A multidisciplinary panel of 386 academic, health, NGO, government and other experts from 112 countries and territories took part in three rounds of structured consultation.
The result is a set of 41 statements and 57 recommendations across six major areas — communication, health systems, vaccination, prevention, treatment and care, and inequities. As of October 2022, more than 630 million COVID-19 cases and over 6.5 million deaths were reported, although the real death toll has been estimated to be upwards of 20 million.
In addition, millions of patients with cancer and chronic disease have experienced dangerous healthcare delays and long Covid continues to elude definitive treatment, posing an ongoing threat to survivors.
In addition, the virus also continues to accumulate mutations that can make it better at evading previous immunity. This is why many public health leaders, including the authors of this study, continue to regard COVID-19 as a persistent and dangerous global health threat.
Despite notable scientific and medical advances, the world’s response to COVID-19 has been hindered by broader political, social, and behavioural factors such as false information, vaccine hesitancy, inconsistent global coordination, and the inequitable distribution of equipment, vaccines and treatments.
Each country has responded differently, and often inadequately, which is partly due to a serious lack of coordination and clear goals, said Mr. Lazarus.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diarrhoea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.