Will lessons be learned from the corona pandemic for health care policy after 23 weeks?

Prof. univ. Wim J.A. van den Heuvel
Honorary professor of University of Groningen and University of Maastricht, The Netherlands, Professor in Care Sciences

Received: 7.06.2020 • Accepted for publication: 20.06.2020


For some time Europe is under the spell of covid-16. Remember how it started? Statistics dominated the news in de last 4 months: the finger on the pulse! In the beginning the statistics didn’t tell us much. Then the statistics warned us – so said the ‘experts’ – to be careful, but the question was also raised: are these statistics reliable? And what do the data show? The (possible) shortage of proper protection and treatment, while health care professionals had to make choices: who to give a chance to survive? Apparently, Europe was not prepared for a pandemic. Another problem arose: who should decide about measures to beat the pandemic. In most countries, policymakers and experts joined wisely in a taskforce and prepared measures to be taken. In some countries policy-makers thought – wrongly – they know best. International organizations did play an important advisory role, although their advices were not always welcomed. So, various countries really run into problems and had to call for the army. Health care systems in most countries were not prepared or able to deal with the pandemic. These experiences may stimulate to restructure some health care systems and the way they are managed. International organisations could evaluate the experiences. Statistics showed a higher number of death in some countries, but not in all. Some countries did not test the presence of a covid-19 infection and reported ‘zero’. We need reliable statistics and complete data, collected accordingly to well-defined criteria, to study the consequences of the pandemic. Opinions and political blindness will not be helpful to learn. The experiences with the pandemic covid-19 may offer many lessons. The question is: are we willing to learn?

Keywords: covid-19, pandemic, statistics, World Health Organisation, health care system