Health Systems Responses to COVID-19: A PWIAS Roundtable Update

April 4, 2021

What can we learn about upstream factors affecting health system responses to COVID-19?

This PWIAS Roundtable for the International Working Group on Health System Responses to COVID-19 has developed a conceptual framework to analyze the influence of “upstream” factors on the pandemic response and health outcomes.  Dr. Peter Berman and his team have termed these higher- level governmental contexts the institutional, political, organizational, and governance (IPOG) factors of the response to COVID-19. The diverse experience of many countries responding to the COVID-19 pandemic suggests that these are critical factors that need to be better understood to increase the likelihood of more positive health outcomes in this and future public health crises.

“Public health systems” are a key component of larger health systems, with specific roles and responsibilities related to surveillance, research, and response to urgent needs affecting population health. The laws, regulations, and organizational structures of public health systems are embedded in institutional and political arrangements. The effectiveness of these systems is determined not only by their technical capacities but also by the governance processes resulting from these IPO factors.

The effectiveness of current and future responses to pandemics and other public health needs can be improved by learning how IPOG factors influence government responses.  COVID-19 across BC, Canada, and internationally provides an unprecedented opportunity to learn from a universal crisis.

“With the PWIAS funding, we accelerated draft documentation of the mixed methods we were developing in BC,” said Dr. Berman. “We conducted 2 roundtable meetings with our international network to gather feedback and test the external validity of the framework and methods the UBC team developed. We presented our methodology and discussed feasibility and potential adaptations of the framework to the different jurisdictions, in hope of inspiring collaborations to take this work forward.”

Dr. Berman’s team was recently awarded a CIHR grant of $118K to support the BC Case Study.  The researchers are seeking to develop partnerships with international collaborators to implement case-study research in different countries.

For more information about this project, please visit the project’s new home page.