EHS-COVID (496) What have we learned about policy development during a pandemic?

6 December, 2021

Dear HIFA colleagues,

Thank you for all you have shared to date on HIFA. The lessons learned from all these exchanges will help others to build resilient health systems that are better prepared for any future SARS-COV-2 variants and indeed future pandemics. Part of this resilience is the ability of countries to develop and implement evidence-informed policy and I invite you to consider the issue of how to strengthen national policy development.

We have previously discussed on HIFA the challenges of policymakers and public health professionals in developing national policy. In particular, policy development needs to take into account a range of issues, including global evidence and guidance (such as the current WHO guidance on Maintaining essential health services during COVD-19); local research and routine data; stakeholder inputs (including civil society); and of course political factors that may push policy in different directions. These challenges are especially difficult in a fluid and emergecy situation suchg as the current pandemic, and in countries with relatively weak capacity. We have seen that even high-income countries have 'messed up' when it comes to policy development. How much more difficult it must be for LMICs.

Have you been involved as a public health professional or policymaker in policy development and/or implementation at country, subnational or facility level in relation to the current pandemic? Or have you helped to produce, synthesise or package the evidence that such decision-makers need?

If so, we would really like to learn from your experience. Please email HIFA:

With thanks,


Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator,