Covid-19: Key Considerations for a Public Health Response

Published on 8 September 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic is more than a health crisis. Its long-term economic and societal effects may well outweigh its initial public health impact. It is therefore essential that responses are socially sensitive and attuned to mitigating these secondary effects.

This briefing draws upon lessons learned by development actors during previous epidemics. It considers the similarities and differences of the Covid-19 pandemic compared to other recent epidemics, casting a critical eye on the social and public health aspects of the responses. Furthermore, implications for development actors are presented, with proposed actions and lessons for policy- and decision-making. These look to align short-term responses aimed at disease treatment and control with those aimed at mitigating secondary impacts on health and livelihoods; and support for recovery and longer-term development approaches, taking account of the political dynamics involved. Specific attention is paid to Ireland’s overarching policy priority to reach the furthest behind first.

Cite this publication

Leach, M.; Meeker, J.; MacGregor, H.; Schmidt-Sane, M. and Wilkinson, A. (2020) 'Covid-19: Key Considerations for a Public Health Response', Briefing, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies


Melissa Leach

Emeritus Fellow

Jessica Meeker

Knowledge Manager

Hayley MacGregor

Research Fellow

Megan Schmidt-Sane

Research Fellow

Annie Wilkinson

Health and Nutrition Cluster Lead

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Supported by
Irish Aid

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published by
Institute of Development Studies


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