This section hosts guidelines, manuals and toolkits to strengthen public health practice.
A significant milestone in the fight against the pandemic was achieved in December 2020 when the United Kingdom and the United States approved several long-awaited vaccines for emergency use. However, global efforts to procure and distribute vaccines to vulnerable populations remain a mammoth task. Due in part to logistical/manufacturing challenges and inequalities in vaccine access, some groups estimate that many low-income countries might not be able to vaccinate their populations until 2023 or 2024. As a result, nonpharmaceutical public health interventions will likely remain critical for curbing the spread of COVID-19 through 2021 and for the foreseeable future. Countries must remain vigilant in their response efforts, adapting them as necessary to prevent and control further outbreaks. Amidst these extraordinary circumstances, it has become clear that many of the pandemic-related challenges faced by communities, societies, and countries are complex and interconnected. For example, COVID-19 has demonstrated the inextricable linkages between human wellbeing and economic development—both through the challenges laid bare by fragile public health systems and the successes of those countries with universal health coverage (UHC), where all people have access to the health services they need without incurring financial hardship. What has also become clear is that the pandemic has been most successfully contained in those countries where diverse expertise, multiple sectors, and a broad spectrum of actors have been meaningfully involved in decision-making and response activities.
Although countries within Asia and the Pacific have varied widely in terms of their level of COVID-19 response, a number of them have successfully adapted and implemented mitigation measures to their contexts—from the success of the Republic of Korea (ROK) with testing and digital contact tracing to Thailand, leveraging a network of more than one million community workers to support the prevention, detection, and reporting of COVID-19. In Viet Nam, a focus on prevention, significant investment in public health infrastructure, and public solidarity enabled the country of 100 million people to register fewer than 2,000 total COVID-19 cases from the start of the pandemic until December 2020. Within this context, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) set out to capture and assess a range of COVID-19 response and recovery efforts across the region—including success stories, challenges, and the associated contributing factors—with particular focus on understanding and explaining how progress was achieved across diverse settings. Given what is now known about COVID-19, these case studies aim to provide the global community with insights into the successes, opportunities, and challenges in delivering innovative and robust responses to fight the pandemic. They may be useful both as countries refine their COVID-19 response efforts and improve their overall pandemic preparedness (e.g., many countries that had the virus under control have witnessed new outbreaks intermittently), and in light of the challenges that lie ahead in vaccine roll-out.
Specific objectives of this publication include:
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