Special edition of "Eurohealth" examines the responses of health systems.

JS – 11/2020

The European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies, the WHO Regional Office for Europe and the European Commission published a special edition of "Eurohealth" on 3rd November 2020: “Health system responses to COVID-19".

It examines how the crisis can be an opportunity to address fundamental weaknesses in health systems. The analyses are based on information from the Health System Response Monitor (HSRM). This was developed in April 2020 to collect and organise up-to-date information on the COVID-19 outbreak.

Health and policy aspects

In the subject areas of "Perspectives on COVID-19", "Preventing transmission", "Ensuring sufficient workforce capacity", "Providing health service effectively", "Paying for services" and "Governance", experts from different disciplines examine policy decisions, progress as well as challenges in the different countries.

The special issue describes findings from the use of new ways of coping with the pandemic such as tracing apps or doctor consultations via video/telephone calls. The publication draws political lessons for the future from the diverse perspectives of the subject areas.

Dr Hans Henri P. Kluge, WHO Regional Director for Europe, Dr Josep Figueras, Director of the European Observatory and Sandra Gallina, Directorate General for Health and Food Safety of the European Commission all say we now have more extensive knowledge of the virus. There has been progress in clinical treatments and the use of intensive care therapies. However, they call for accelerated implementation of the measures, in particular the prevention measures. This is the only way to flatten the curve that is currently rising sharply in many countries.

Weaknesses in health systems

In relation to health care systems, the authors state that the weaknesses show the mistakes of the last decade. They argue that shortcomings in preventing infection or addressing the issue of mortality in nursing homes reflect the low priority given to public health and long-term care over the years. They criticise the lack of investment in these areas and call for policy-makers to engage stakeholders and maintain their commitment. Functioning innovations should be strengthened. Governance mechanisms, in particular are also to be strengthened in order to support the necessary change processes.

Eurohealth is a quarterly publication, in which researchers, policy-makers and experts can express their views on healthcare policy issues, thus contributing to a constructive debate on healthcare policy in Europe.