The forgotten sub-regional COVID-19 response layer. The case of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region
Keywords:Emergency response, epidemics, sub-regional
The response to the COVID-19 pandemic have been driven by epidemiology, health system characteristics and control measures in form of social/physical distancing. Guidance, information and best practices have been characterized by territorial thinking with concentration on national health system and social contexts. Information was to a large extent provided from global entities such as the World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others. This bipolar response mechanism came to the detriment of regional and sub-regional levels. The development of the global pandemic was evaluated in terms of the performance of single countries without trying to reflect on possible regional or sub-regional results of similar characteristics in health system and social contexts. To have a clearer view of the issue of sub-regional similarities, we examined the WHO, Eastern Mediterranean Region. When examining the development of confirmed cases for countries in the region, we identified four different sub-groups similar in the development of the pandemic and the social distancing measure implemented. Despite the complicated situation, these groups gave space for thinking outside the box of traditional outbreaks or pandemic response. We think that this sub-regional approach could be very effective in addressing more characteristics and not geographically based analysis. Furthermore, this can be an area of additional conceptual approaches, modelling and concrete platforms for information and lessons learned exchange.
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