Pandemics, Compound Disasters, and Other Complex Emergencies
Early on, so many quarters criticized the WHO for failing to raise the pandemic alarm that would have allowed affected countries to launch anticipatory actions potentially containing the global spread of Covid-19. Apparently, WHO relied on representations made by the leaders of the country of origin of this dreaded disease. On hindsight, more stringent protocols on early detection should have been made. For the Philippines, the DOH apparently relied and waited for WHO recommendations, specifically on the declaration of a pandemic. It was only in March 11, 2020 that WHO declared that Covid-19 “can be characterized as a pandemic.” But by that time, and on hindsight, community transmission was already progressing in the Philippines, requiring very drastic emergency policy responses. In contrast, Taiwan apparently initiated early action in January 2020, presumably stemming the spread of the disease in the said territory by seizing the “golden opportunity” to contain it thru anticipatory policy responses. In addition, apparently the DOH has been consulting so many health/epidemiology experts for advice on proper policy responses, while at the same time being inundated by demands for timely action to an unraveling national crisis. Very telling indeed is the recent incident where the DOH Secretary had to recall his declaration that the country was already on the 2nd wave of the Covid-19 crisis, necessitating the President and the DILG to correct the situation. In this unraveling scenario, crucial issues have surfaced: 1.) whether there is a panel of experts composed of the country’s best minds and most qualified, tasked to make comprehensive and timely assessments on pandemics; and, 2.) whether there is a clear institutional mechanism on how such panel’s assessments and recommendations should be used both at the national and local levels.
Acknowledging that there is a need for: 1st, creating a multidisciplinary panel of experts; and, 2nd, formulating institutional mechanisms for the conduct of assessments on pandemics and related complex emergencies, this project is hereby proposed. Given that part of UP’s mandate is to provide public service to national and local governments, the ultimate purpose of the creation of an experts panel together with the formulation of institutional mechanisms, is to help the Filipino people deal with the Covid-19 pandemic thru proper advice. This panel will draw on the various expertise of academics and researchers from across UP units based on disciplines that are deemed necessary in dealing with the pandemic as a multi-faceted complex emergency. In addition, the panel will look at cross-cutting concerns such as scenarios involving complex emergencies (say, continued Covid-19 transmission complexed with a typhoon landfall by the 3rd and 4th quarters, etc.), and socioeconomic consequences (economic losses due to the ECQ), aside from assessing mid-term and long-term effects, and policy responses needed to deal with such mid and long-term consequences.
1st Phase: This will involve the organizational development aspect of creating the UP Panel of Experts on Pandemics, Compound Disasters, and Other Complex Emergencies (UP PEPCDOC), from disciplines needed, composition, creation of a secretariat or support unit both at the System and Unit levels, functions, and processes.
2nd Phase: This will involve the conduct of risk assessments by discipline or sub-panels, and as a committee or panel of the whole. Internal mechanisms may further be formulated on the conduct of discipline-based assessments, reviews and recommendations, with support from UPRI. Then sectoral and consolidated assessments may be done, in relation with the stakeholders or policymakers who shall benefit from such. An accompanying R&D Agenda shall be drafted to address emerging issues, for recommendation to appropriate units within the University.
3rd Phase: This will involve the publication, printing and dissemination of the above outputs not only to primary beneficiaries (national and local governments, legislators, international organizations and bilateral partners), but also to secondary audiences, such as but not limited to the following: students, CSOs, other academic institutions/SUCs, and the like.
4th Phase: This will involve international and local linkaging with other R&D institutions for the purpose of knowledge sharing and exchange of insights, best practices and innovations that may help in validating or improving the assessments, and communicating the Covid-19 situation of the Philippines.
– Create and institutionalize the UP Panel of Experts on Pandemics, Compound Disasters, and Other Complex Emergencies (UP PEPCDOC);
– Conduct comprehensive risk assessments on the Covid-19 pandemic, together with complex emergencies; and,
– Document, disseminate and share such assessments to primary and secondary targets.
An OD expert shall the design the composition, creation of a secretariat or support unit both at the System and Unit levels (sub-panels), functions, and processes. After which OD design shall be executed with the creation of the support units based with UPRI
Conduct of Risk Assessments and Formulation of Pandemic R&D Agenda
Sub-panels shall first be created, who in turn shall conduct sectoral or discipline-based assessments (e.g. health risk assessments, food security impacts and risks, disaster risk assessments, socioeconomic assessments on loss and damage, differential impacts on poor and vulnerable and marginalized sectors, education sector, etc.). Representatives from the sub-panels will then consolidate them into a national assessment. Consolidated recommendations and key lessons shall then be submitted to targeted policymakers.
Publication, Printing and Dissemination
The above assessments shall be published online and printed, and later made available for dissemination.
R&D International and Local Linkaging
Selected expert/s or researchers shall conduct international and local linkaging with other R&D institutions for the purpose of knowledge sharing and exchange of insights, good practices and innovations that may help in validating or improving the assessments, and communicating the Covid-19 situation of the Philippines.