HOW TO CITE THIS ARTICLE: Evans O. (2020). Socio-economic impacts of novel coronavirus: The policy solutions, BizEcons Quarterly, 7, 3–12.
1. Proactive Management Approaches
Historically, humans have battled
emerging diseases through early detection followed by coordinated quarantine,
as demonstrated by the SARS outbreak in 2003, the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and
the COVID-19 outbreak. Continued and improved coordinated international disease
surveillance is important. A shift in both research and pandemic management
efforts must be geared towards proactive management approaches. In due course,
medical science needs an enhanced understanding of the origins of pandemic
emergence, spillover, and post-spillover evolution so that the virus can be
better diagnosed and prevented.
2. Health Policy Framework Addressing Many of the Social Determinants of Health
The coronavirus imposes a substantial
burden for the patient and the society in terms of direct and indirect costs
related to medical care, disability, early mortality, and negative employment
consequences, such as loss of productivity due to presenteeism and absenteeism.
Economic cost of illness-related productivity losses can be significant. These
costs can create barriers in access to services, affect health outcomes and
contribute to the financial burden of households. On the other hand, direct
non-medical costs, such as food, accommodation and travel costs incurred when
searching for and accessing health care services, may also be significant.
Studies such as Olivera & Buitrago (2020) have
suggested that a health policy framework addressing as many of the social
determinants of health as possible may be crucial in containing such social
costs. Therefore, reducing this burden is a key responsibility of the health
3. Education and Health Literacy
Another challenge that seems
surmountable is education and health literacy (Rohr et al, 2019). Not
surprisingly, education is well-documented as a major contributing factor to
reducing infectious diseases. Therefore, enhancing education and health
literacy can have reinforcing positive effects on the ability of humans to
fight more deadly diseases, such as coronavirus. Reducing COVID-19 would
also have knock-on effects for education and health literacy because increasing
cases of the virus would impede cognition, learning and school attendance.
Thus, enhanced education and health literacy have the potential to
synergistically fuel reduction in the cases of the virus.
4. National and International Shifts in Investments
National and international shifts in
investments would also pay large dividends for COVID-19 control. There is
considerable evidence that the developing world will struggle to feed its
growing populations due to the poverty trap of infectious disease (Molyneux, Hotez & Fenwick, 2005; Hotez, Fenwick,
Savioli & Molyneux, 2009; Conteh, Engels & Molyneux, 2010).
However, ample evidence also suggests that this trap could be broken via
investments in health infrastructure and preventive chemotherapy (Hotez, 2009; Ngonghala et al, 2017). Curing COVID-19 has the
added benefit of potentially reducing the nutritional needs of cured
individuals by stopping the feeding of their parasites.
5. Public and Private Partnerships
Ending COVID-19 will demand intensified public-private funding, preferably delivered at the international level, to strengthen
research, advocacy, and the global control effort. Public and private
stakeholders at local, national and international levels must collaborate more
systematically to ensure informed systems, and encourage cost-sharing
strategies for disease prevention and preparedness where possible and provide
optimal intervention strategies where necessary. Controlling the virus will
require nothing less than such robust public-private partnerships.
6. World Technical Council on Coronavirus
order to better protect the world from COVID-19
and the untold attendant social and economic consequences, this
article proposes the formation of a standing World Technical Council on
Coronavirus. Its mission would be to control the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the
attendant health, social, and economic risks. The Council would support improve
collaboration and make high-level, evidence-based recommendations to existing
organizations such as WHO, national governments, and global non-profits. It
would identify gaps in surveillance, outbreak readiness, biomedical
countermeasures, and financing.
Considering the grave human, societal, and economic consequences, there is a critical need for health professionals and policy makers to recognize the magnitude of the COVID-19 epidemic and the potential socio-economic devastation. This article has provided policy solutions from previous pandemics and the literature. Most of these policy solutions lie within the realm of government and other stakeholders with capacity for decision-making; action must hence begin here. Without a global ‘call to action’, however, COVID-19 will exact an increasingly shattering toll around the world. Multi-national and multi-sectorial efforts are needed because prevention is beyond the latitude of any one government or usual models of the health care system. Effective implementation of these policy solutions will therefore require full support of all stakeholders, including governments, health professionals, the media, non-governmental organizations, communities, and individuals. To fully curb the coronavirus pandemic, it is crucial for international agencies and national governments to take the leadership role in developing and implementing wide-ranging policies that make the diagnosis, therapeutics and vaccines for the virus a global and national priority.
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