'Broader societal perspective needed to combat pandemic consequences'
In order to help politicians and policymakers make better decisions in future pandemics, health scientists’ advice must take into account the effects that pandemic-related measures have outside of the healthcare sector much more. Health economists from Maastricht University and the English city of Birmingham therefore call for a broader societal perspective in studies evaluating the economic impact of corona measures. Their appeal was published today in the International Journal of Technology Assessment in Healthcare.
According to the Maastricht researchers, scientists in the field of health economics tend to focus solely on the costs and benefits within the healthcare sector. In their view, they do not look enough at the effects of measures in societal areas such as the labour market, education, housing, the environment, consumer behaviour or even criminal law. By taking these into account more in the future, this group of health economists expects that politicians and policymakers will be able to make decisions that benefit all of society more often. ‘The reporting and quantification of these kinds of broader societal effects is complex, but we want to insist on adopting a broader societal perspective in economic analyses,’ says researcher Luca Janssen of Maastricht University.
‘Everyone can see the consequences of the pandemic. It is high time that we as health economists recognise that the economic consequences of this pandemic are not only manifested in the healthcare sector, but throughout society,’ Janssen adds. Previous research has already shown that people living in worse socioeconomic conditions are at a higher risk of getting sick and developing complications from the coronavirus compared to others. Likewise, school closures cause social inequality not only related to digital education access and children’s academic performance, but in many countries these measures are also particularly detrimental to women who see a huge increase in household responsibilities due to the combination of home schooling and working from home. On the other hand, the decrease in air pollution due to reduced air traffic has benefits for society. Janssen: ‘It is essential for politicians and policymakers to base future decisions not only on the costs and benefits within the healthcare sector, but to take a holistic approach.’