Local Covid-19 syndemics and the need for an integrated response

Published on 27 May 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic is more than a health crisis. It has worse outcomes among individuals with co-morbidities, has exposed fault lines in our societies, and amplified existing inequalities.

The article ‘Local Covid-19 syndemics and the need for an integrated response’ taken from the recent IDS Bulletin: Building a Better World: The Crisis and Opportunity of Covid-19, draws on emerging evidence from low- and middle-income contexts to highlight how Covid-19 becomes syndemic when it interacts with local vulnerabilities.

Authors Megan Schmidt-Sane, Melissa Leach, Hayley MacGregor, Jessica Meeker and Annie Wilkinson say a syndemic approach provides a framework for understanding how Covid-19 is amplified when clustered with other diseases and how this clustering is facilitated by contextual and social factors, which create adverse conditions.

Public health responses to Covid-19 have also exacerbated these adverse conditions, with many facing social and economic crises as a result of some policies. These multiple challenges have major implications for both the public health response and for broader development action. First, one size does not fit all and we must attend to local vulnerabilities. Second, short-term public health response and longer-term development approaches must be integrated for improved intersectoral coordination and synergy. A synergised public health and development response will allow us to better prepare for the next pandemic.

Co-author, Megan Schmidt-Sane shares more on this topic and answers the following questions:

  • What do you think the issue of the IDS Bulletin will bring to the current and evolving discourse of Covid?
  • Who is suffering and how are they suffering from issues you’ve raised in your article and what can donors do to help?
  • What is one thing you want readers of your article to take away?

Watch the interview


About the IDS Bulletin

The IDS Bulletin is an open access, peer-reviewed journal focusing on international development. In continual publication since 1968, it has a well-established reputation for intellectually rigorous articles developed through learning partnerships on emerging and evolving development challenges presented in an accessible manner in themed issues that bridge academic, practice and policy discourse.

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