Introductory conversation on the COVID-19 situation in Iran and Germany: National health and emergency systems
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, declared by the WHO on 11 March 2020, countries have reacted differently depending on their context-specific capacities and realities. Differences in development and socio-demographic indicators such as poverty and access to healthcare seem to have played a relevant role in the progress of the SARS‑CoV‑2 virus within different population groups. Perhaps for that reason, the idea of considering COVID-19 from a ‘syndemic’ perspective is gaining momentum. Beyond that, the pandemic has also triggered unprecedented international efforts and scientific collaboration in developing an effective vaccine against the virus, with some remarkable achievements but also some questionings have raised (see for example the concerns around the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe and the USA). Today, one of the main challenges for governments in the coming months (or years) will be to provide effective communication about the benefits (as well as risks) of vaccination against the SARS‑CoV‑2 virus. Dismantling misleading information regarding to COVID-19 vaccines with coherent messages between politicians, public health authorities and scientists will increase trust and confidence among population, which is fundamental to mobilize the wider level of public support needed to adopt measures effectively.
This first workshop is part of a workshop series titled ‘Knowledge Exchange in Virtual Workshops on the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic’ in the BMBF-funded INCREASE project between Germany and Iran. This initial workshop addressed introductory questions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic in Iran and Germany, as an initial step to approach in the subsequent workshops more specific questions regarding to the social aspects of vaccination (e.g., hesitancy), role of volunteerism, multi-hazard risks and preparedness, among others.
Some of the introductory questions for this first workshop were:
- How the country organizes itself in terms of health emergencies such as the COVID-19? What are the main actors participating? A general picture.
- How this health/emergency system has been reacting (or changing) during the COVID-19 pandemic? What were the main challenges in the initial moments of the pandemic? What worked well or proofed to be reliable structures in the health and emergency systems?
- Are there territorial differences within the country in managing the COVID-19 emergency? Are there differences between urban and rural approaches used to manage the pandemic?
A short-report of the session can be downloaded here:
 The term syndemic emphasises the resulting synergical interplay between biological, social, cultural, environmental, and political factors in the health of individuals and populations (Fronteira et al., 2021).