By Dr. Nadejda Komendantova
Covid19 pandemic reached many countries to a large extent unprepared for such situation. Several decisions had to be taken under a high degree of uncertainty and with limited evidence. Also, public had to be persuaded about usefulness of the chosen set of actions and public officials’ statements mostly framed the problem unilaterally, basing their narratives on warnings coming from the medical and public health scientific community.
Several compelling narratives seem to have played a significant role in the decision-making processes regarding which risk mitigation and management measures to implement. These decisions might have been influenced by cognitive and behavioural biases. We believe that a framework of representing complex scenarios in socioeconomic systems has the potential to decrease influence of biases and to reduce the number of measures with insignificant effects or with highly uncertain or undesirable side-effects. We suggest an integrated framework for a more elaborated decision analysis under the ambiguity of how to contain the virus spread from a policy point of view, while considering epidemiologic estimations and socioeconomic factors in a multi-stakeholder-multi-criteria context based on a co-creative work process for eliciting attitudes, perceptions, as well as preferences amongst relevant stakeholder groups.
We apply the framework in three phases, in Botswana, with a focus on the epidemiological model, in Romania where we tested the decision model and questionnaire reception, and in Jordan in a slightly broader study. We thus tested the full-scale model in the latter two cases for evaluating mitigation measures for the Covid-19 situation, to mobilise better response strategies for future scenarios related to pandemics and other hazardous events, as well as to structure the production and analysis of narratives on the current pandemic effects.
The framework can be useful for pandemic modelling, including epidemiological and socioeconomic factors, as well as to emphasize that such analyses should really be done, before, during and after a crisis, as a basis for evidence-based policymaking regarding pandemic situations and a learning opportunity. The application of our framework in three case studies showed that it is a feasible methodology even with imprecise evidence and preferences.