On July 22, GSL Director Steven Hoffman published an Op-ed in the Toronto Star discussing the importance of public health funding and the lessons we can take from Canada’s learning curve under COVID-19.
In the article, Hoffman likened the response to the pandemic to a choose-your-own-adventure book, where every decision leads you down a unique path and therefore unknown outcomes. This explains policy changes during the pandemic on masks for example. In the beginning, Canada downplayed the importance of mask-wearing even suggesting people should refrain from purchasing medical-style masks to ensure enough PPE stock for frontline workers. Only a couple of months later, many regions now have mask mandates.
Hoffman explains that scientific evidence is only one factor that influences policies. Public health leaders must also consider stakeholder insights, citizen values, affordability, and feasibility of implementation. This emphasizes that decision-making during a pandemic is fraught with complexities. He argues that well-resourced public health systems and research are the best tools for informing decisions and ensuring effective pandemic responses. This includes having public health professionals, laboratory capacity, upstream prevention efforts, data infrastructure, and research on what works, for whom, and how.
Read the full piece here.