A framework to support the integration of priority setting in the preparedness, alert, control and evaluation stages of a disease pandemic
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The COVID-19 pandemic, where the need-resource gap has necessitated decision makers in some contexts to ration access to life-saving interventions, has demonstrated the critical need for systematic and fair priority setting and resource allocation mechanisms. Disease outbreaks are becoming increasingly common and priority setting lessons from previous disease outbreaks could be better harnessed to inform decision making and planning for future disease outbreaks. The purpose of this paper is to discuss how priority setting and resource allocation could, ideally, be integrated into the WHO pandemic planning and preparedness framework and used to inform the COVID-19 pandemic recovery plans and plans for future outbreaks. Priority setting and resource allocation during disease outbreaks tend to evoke a process similar to the 'rule of rescue'. This results in inefficient and unfair resource allocation, negative effects on health and non-health programs and increased health inequities. Integrating priority setting and resource allocation activities throughout the four phases of the WHO emergency preparedness framework could ensure that priority setting during health emergencies is systematic, evidence informed and fair.
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