COVID-19 pandemic response in one of the world’s most complex and vulnerable settings
Airborne diseases have plagued urban and rural communities alike in epidemic and pandemic forms since ancient times. During the 1918–1920 Spanish influenza pandemic, which was the deadliest in recorded history, it is estimated that more than 50 million people died.1 As of 1 May 2022, there have been over 510 million confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2, a respiratory virus, and approximately 6.2 million deaths.2 Over the 2 years of pandemic, WHO has also estimated the excess mortality due to COVID-19, disease caused by SARS-CoV-2, to be 13.3–16.6 million deaths.3 Respiratory disease pandemics are clearly a threat to human security and development in our world.
The Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) is one of WHO’s six geographical regions and home to nearly 700 million people across 22 diverse countries and territories spread over South and West Asia, the Middle East and North Africa.4 A special issue series was commissioned in May 2021 jointly by the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean and BMJ Global Health to gather evidence on response and associated learnings from COVID-19 pandemic in the Region.4 This special issue explores the pandemic response with the aim of identifying successes, lessons and ways to address gaps for regional public health community to be able to better manage future pandemic risks.5 The Eastern Mediterranean Region is facing an unusual situation of multiple disease outbreaks ongoing in different countries (as shown in figure 1)6 along with the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting the importance of preparedness and response to epidemics and pandemics.
Source: British Medical Journal