The COVID-19 Law Lab initiative gathers and shares legal documents from over 190 countries across the world to help states establish and implement strong legal frameworks to manage the pandemic. The goal is to ensure that laws protect the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities and that they adhere to international human rights standards.
The new Lab (at www.COVIDLawLab.org) is a joint project of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University.
Well-designed laws can help build strong health systems; evaluate and approve safe and effective drugs and vaccines; and enforce actions to create healthier and safer public spaces and workplaces. Critically, they are key to effective implementation of the WHO International Health Regulations: surveillance; infection prevention and control; management of travel and trade; and implementation of measures to maintain essential health services.
“Laws and policies that are grounded in science, evidence and human rights can enable people to access health services, protect themselves from COVID-19 and live free from stigma, discrimination and violence,” says Achim Steiner, UNDP Administrator. “The COVID-19 Law Lab is an important tool for sharing good practices on laws and policies.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a vast increase in urgent legislative action to control and reduce the pandemic.
“Strong legal frameworks are critical for national COVID-19 responses,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “Laws that impact health often fall outside the health sector. As health is global, legal frameworks should be aligned with international commitments to respond to current and emerging public health risks. A strong foundation of law for health is more important now than ever before.”
The COVID-19 crisis has created many challenges for health systems around the world. Health leaders have to focus on sustaining their organisations at all levels, and the International Hospital Federation is offering its support to them through a number of projects.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic reminds us of how we are all interconnected. Whilst impacting different countries in different ways and to varying degrees, this pandemic has demonstrated that we all have a common ground – it is a healthcare crisis and its issues tend to be similar in one way or another.
Hospitals urgently looking for supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), healthcare workers being exhausted up to the brim, patients overwhelming emergency rooms, doctors making difficult choices on who to treat first based on the patient’s chance of survival – these are all common scenarios the global healthcare industry is facing today because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patients are under lockdown and health workers are at risk of infection. Paul Webster reports on how telemedicine is being embraced like never before.
In the face of a surge in cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), physicians and health systems worldwide are racing to adopt virtualised treatment approaches that obviate the need for physical meetings between patients and health providers. But many doctors are watching warily.
Two of the most pressing needs worldwide in the coronavirus pandemic are for more hospital beds and testing centres. No country in the world has enough hospital beds or intensive-care unit (ICU) beds for a pandemic. Even the best prepared, like Germany with 33.9 ICU beds per 100,000 citizens, does not have enough.
Most countries have locked down to buy time by flattening the infection curve so fewer patients will present to hospital at once. They hope to use the time to boost hospital capacity.
But the design challenge is significant. We need structures that can be quickly and easily assembled, are inexpensive and meet technical requirements. Architects have always worked on such challenges – the Living Shelter is one recent example.
Here in Australia a consortium is working to develop two designs, one for hospital intensive care units and one for COVID-19 testing centres, that can be used across the country and overseas. By using recycled shipping containers as the core structure, the price of the buildings will be less than a third of the cost of conventional designs.
In both building types, the container doubles as structure and packaging. This means the designs are self-contained and easy to distribute anywhere in the world. All the building parts, technical equipment, cabinets and other fit-out materials pack into the container.
Douglas Abdiel, the director of charitable foundation P&G Purpose, and architect Robert Barnstone are working together on the design and delivery of these hospital units and testing centres.
Barnstone specialises in disaster relief architecture. He has developed designs for emergency housing for the International Red Cross and rapid deployment schools for countries afflicted by disaster. This experience gave Barnstone invaluable insights into the economics and potential construction systems for the hospital units and testing centres.