As low- and middle-income countries prepare to be hard hit by the COVID-19 outbreak, policymakers must make tough choices on how to allocate finite resources to respond, especially considering constraints in human resources, infrastructure, and supply chains. Optimizing resource allocation—at all times, but particularly in times of crisis—requires data on what works best and at what cost, but many policymakers currently lack this crucial information. The limited evidence on the comparative cost-effectiveness of potential interventions tends to be proprietary and predominantly shared with, and applicable to, high-income country governments. Further, this data is centered around disease transmission models and rarely incorporates the wider economic and health implications of containment policies beyond their immediate health impacts. As a result, policymakers, especially in low-resource settings, have little visibility into the direct health impacts and costs of COVID-targeted interventions, the indirect health implications of reallocated resources, and the longer-term effects on the economy and human capital more broadly.
What are the best ways to equip governments around the world with the necessary data, evidence, and modelling tools to inform and monitor their responses to COVID-19? How can support for structured resource allocation to address the current outbreak lay the groundwork for sustainable decision-making processes for future emergencies? Join the Center for Global Development and the International Decision Support Initiative for an online discussion on the role of better data in government responses to COVID-19 and the tradeoffs of such policy decisions, considering both real-time guidance and longer-term capacity building.