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Table 3 Summary of recommendations and action items

From: Challenges encountered in comparing international policy responses to COVID-19 and their effects

Recommendations Action items
A comprehensive, automated international public health informatics infrastructure is needed to enable fast, accurate and complete data collection Identify reliable sources of up-to-date and easily accessible information
Engage research communities, health departments and public health agencies in discussion of what is needed for comprehensive data collection and plans to establish data collection tools and infrastructure
Define and agree upon standards among countries regarding data elements for testing, death counts and confirmed cases that are essential for data collection and reporting. Definitions for social/physical distancing, masks (face mask, cloth face covering, surgical mask, N95 respirator), lockdowns, “stay-at-home” orders, essential errands and essential workers must be standardized Engage research communities, health departments and public health agencies in collaboration towards development of standards and definitions for commonly used terms related to this and future pandemics
Investment in public health and emergency preparedness must increase. The robustness of existing healthcare systems must be improved to ensure that citizens have fair and equal access to healthcare and health maintenance resources Scientific communities must be empowered to assess and scrutinize government policies, actions and inactions. These entities must use an evidence-based approach to identify and demand allocation of more resources and investment where they are needed
Subject national health systems and emergency plans to international benchmarks [51]
Scientific and technical experts must be included in developing evidence-based policy with public buy-in and accountable leadership Public health agencies, local governments and federal governments must incorporate scientific and technical expertise in task forces that gather and assess data and establish policies based on evidence. Scientific expertise, collaboration and explanation can help engage the public in all aspects of crisis preparedness
Share contingency plans with the public and offer options for public comment