Build Back Better – Health in all Communities
The pandemic has shown that, globally, healthcare systems are fragile. They need to be built back better. By better, I mean not just going back to pre-pandemic status but becoming more agile and using and expanding their resources. Health and well-being have got to be built into all parts of our communities and those that serve them. Many places have shown us how to build back better. The Chicago Vaccine Partnership (CVP), which has 135 participating organizations, is one example of an umbrella organization that is working to mobilize trusted community leaders, not just those working in the health field, to share information about vaccines, educate community members about Covid science and offer public health skill-building to community-based organizations. The CVP has laid the collaborative, community-based framework that, even beyond the pandemic, can ensure that healthcare and public health are part of all aspects of the community and accessible to all residents no matter what neighborhood they reside in.
The same community-based adaptive approach was seen in Benin, who, despite the need to socially distance, still managed to deliver insecticide bed nets to communities in need. Instead of relying on the prior system of giving vouchers to families to come to a central point to pick up bed nets, they pivoted during the pandemic and rethought the process. Community workers used existing data they collected to determine which household needed bed nets and then, through a door-to-door system, delivered 7 million bed nets to 3 million families during Covid lockdowns.
Building back better must include those who are closest to the health issues having a role in designing and implementing the solutions. Building a more robust public health infrastructure comes from innovation and efforts like this- ones that adapt what works and make it even better with the communities as co-innovators.