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Legal and Health Response to COVID-19 in the Arab Countries

Authors Falah Hasan H

Received 16 December 2020

Accepted for publication 24 February 2021

Published 16 March 2021 Volume 2021:14 Pages 1141—1154


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Marco Carotenuto

Hasan Falah Hasan

Faculty of Law, An-Najah National University, Nablus, Palestine

Correspondence: Hasan Falah Hasan
Faculty of Law, An-Najah National University, Nablus, Palestine
Tel +970 597022721
Email [email protected]

Background: Arab countries account for almost 6% of the global population, yet they make up only 5% of the total cases and less than 3% of the global death toll attributed to COVID-19. COVID-19 has put the health systems in the various Arab Countries and their ability to deliver healthcare services under tremendous strain. The capacity and stability of any health system is important in any type of response to the pandemic, in order to ensure an effective and efficient delivery of care to the public through COVID-19 and beyond. The objective of this study is to identify the various response of health systems in Arab Countries to COVID-19, and highlight the legal and health challenges faced during the pandemic. The study identified both gaps and good practices that may be utilized in order to guide the efforts in response to COVID-19 and the recovery efforts once the pandemic is over.
Methods: To determine why the response of some health systems in Arab Countries responses are more effective than others, a three-step framework is adopted which includes, detection, containment, and treatment stages. In order to identify which countries are excelling at detection, containment, and treatment stages, several indicators were selected for each stage. To be able to understand the legal and health challenges of response to the COVID-19 pandemic, an analysis of the health systems, the resources in terms of quality and access, health workforce, and finance was conducted. Secondary data published by the Global Burden of Disease Study, and the Global Change Data Lab of the University of Oxford was used to study identified gaps and good practices to guide the responses to COVID-19 and recovery efforts once the pandemic is over.
Results: The epidemiologic record demonstrates that that certain Arab countries are managing to control the pandemic, through a combination of mitigation strategies, suppression strategy and elimination strategy. There are several barriers and challenges in Arab health systems which have been amplified due to COVID-19 and if ignored may pose a further significant challenge in the future. Health systems in Arab countries are not sufficiently equipped to handle all healthcare needs related to COVID-19, in particular issues relating to administration, equity, finances, the supply side of healthcare, and usage of information technology.
Conclusion: In Arab counties, the standard response to COVID-19 was enforced by new health laws, which consist of a combination of the traditional disease control measures (testing, contact-tracing, social distancing), population-based physical distancing (including stay-at-home orders, school and business closures, and social gathering bans), travel limits (including travel bans, and border closures), and economic support measures. Acceptable healthcare quality and access, sufficient health workforce, and sufficient funds are the most imperative needs in the health system in Arab counties to provide a sustainable response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19, Arab countries, health systems, health workforce, health finance, taxes, legal issues, health quality

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