A colored scanning electron microscope image of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Image Credit: NIAID

The rapid spread of SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) has not only resulted in high numbers of deaths and a wide variety of health outcomes in societies, but has also severely affected global economies and other sectors outside of healthcare Affected.

Future analysis must consider the societal impact of a variety of responses to COVID-19 if policymakers are to make better decisions about resource allocation, delivering interventions, and promoting economic and social recovery.

In practice, many health economic assessments tend to take a narrow study perspective, primarily estimating the economic impact on health costs. They fail to consider how dealing with public health issues and interventions impacts other areas of society, such as education, criminal justice, housing, consumption and the environment.

Researchers from the Universities of Birmingham and Maastricht University today publish their editorial in the International Journal of Technology Assessment in Healthcare, calling for a more holistic approach, ie economic assessments of public health interventions, to take a societal perspective for the analysis, if necessary.

The current pandemic shows the importance of taking a societal perspective to account for these wider implications of public health issues and interventions.

Researchers pointed to the evidence available showing the risks of a pandemic and related interventions in a number of sectors such as labor and productivity, as well as other areas such as education, criminal justice, housing and the environment.

Co-author Lena Schnitzler, PhD student at the Institute of Applied Health Research at the University of Birmingham, stated, “We have all seen that the response to this pandemic is not just affecting the health sector, it requires a holistic societal approach and affects many sectors – and Focus on the wider impacts of a public health threat on society.

“Capturing and quantifying these broader societal impacts is complex, but we need to push for societal perspectives to be incorporated into economic research. This will help our policymakers make better decisions about how to deal with the consequences of the pandemic.”

Existing evidence shows that people living in poorer socio-economic circumstances and suffering from health conditions are at a higher risk of contracting the virus and developing complications compared to others. The pandemic also exacerbates domestic burdens, which are mainly carried by women.

“Everyone can see the impact of the pandemic, from the impact on education with school closings causing unequal access to online education, to the impact on the environment with falling air pollution – and everything in between, including impact on Aspects of society about criminal justice, housing and consumption.

“We urgently need a broader perspective to understand this impact and to take action to reduce its impact on society,” added Irina Pokhilenko, researcher at Maastricht University.

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Quote: The Broader Impact of COVID-19: A Societal Perspective in Health Economics Assessments (2021, March 9), accessed March 9, 2021 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-03-broader-impacts-covid-societal -perspective. html

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