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Long read

Covid-19 recovery and resilience: what can health and care learn from other disasters?

As Covid-19 swept the globe, countries rushed to tackle the immediate threat of the virus. New hospitals were built in a matter of days, people have been required to restrict their activities to an extent inconceivable during peacetime and a new class of vaccine was developed, trialled and approved within a matter of months.

The scale of the emergency response has been extraordinary. But while focus has rightly been on the immediate response to the virus, what comes next?

When a disaster strikes, emergency plans are quickly enacted and command-and-control structures mobilised. When it comes to managing recovery, however, the processes and roles aren’t always so clear. How do individuals, communities and countries recover from disasters? How do we know what support is needed, which groups should be prioritised and how should efforts be co-ordinated and managed? And what role should the health and care system play in recovery?

We set out to understand what the health and care system can learn from the experience of recovery from other disasters. We spoke to people involved in recovery work around the world, including in New Zealand in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes, in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire in London, and many others to learn how their insights and experiences could inform Covid-19 recovery.

This long read identifies the key insights they shared with us and shares the four priorities that we learnt require conscious attention and action.

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