Background: The role of health systems in the management of disasters including natural hazards like outbreaks and pandemics, is crucial and vital. Healthcare systems which are unprepared to properly deal with crises are much more likely to expose their public health workers and health personnel to harm and will not be able to deliver healthcare provisions in critical situations. This can lead to a drammatic toll of deaths, even in developed countries. The possible occurrence of global crises has prompted the WHO to devise instruments, guidelines and tools to assess the capacity of countries to deal with disasters. Iran’s health system has been hit hardly by the COVID-19 pandemic. In this study, we aimed to assess its preparedness and response to the outbreak.
Methods: The present investigation was designed as a qualitative study. We utilized the “COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan” devised by WHO as a conceptual framework.
Results: The dimension/pillars which scored the highest was national laboratories, followed by surveillance, rapid response teams and case investigations. Risk communication and community engagement was another pillar receiving a high score, followed by infection prevention and control and by country-level coordination, planning and monitoring. The pillar/dimensions receiving the lowest scores were operational support and logistics; case management; and points of entry.
Discussion: The COVID-19 pandemic has represented an unprecedent event that has challenged healthcare systems and facilities worldwide, highlighting their weaknesses and the need for inter-sectoral cooperation and collaboration during the crisis. Analyzing these experiences and capitalizing on them, by strengthening them,will help countries to be more prepared to face opossible future crises.
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