A better understanding of possible future developments is essential to policy makers to anticipate and possibly influence these trends. The current crisis makes it clear that Public Health Foresight Studies (PHFS) may be more necessary than ever to get an understanding of possible (health) impacts of the current COVID-19 outbreak, e.g. changes in regular health care services delivery, in lifestyle and in socio-economic developments. The overall aim of this work package is to gain insights in possible future health impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak, by developing scenarios for Member States and associated countries’ national situation. A scenario is not a prediction, rather a consistent, plausible and coherent description of the future reflecting perspectives on past, present, and future developments, which can serve as a basis for action. More specifically, the objectives of this workpackage are:
- To get an overview of how European countries have been using foresight, modelling and preparedness regarding COVID-19 (mainly indirect effects).
- To develop and provide foresight capacity (leveling the knowledge needed for performing foresight, reducing information inequalities, strengthening European data uniformity).
- To support evidence-based policy decisions, by exploring direct and indirect effects of COVID-19 on population health using scenarios and a broad conceptual model of health and care.
This WP applies a multi-step approach. This is represented in the following 4 tasks.
Task 9.1: Overview of current foresight activities in Europe and beyond
The objective of this task is to make an inventory of current foresight activities and initiatives in MS and at European level. MS will be asked (through a “foresight-activities” questionnaire, in collaboration with WP3) to list current activities on foresight, the current capacity and potential demands for applying foresight methodology. At the same time, health foresight experts and academics will be identified and a quick scan of the literature will be performed.
Task 9.2: Building capacity in foresight
This task will organise capacity building sessions with all MS to build on the partners’ foresight experience, learn from foresight initiatives in international organizations and will enrich the training with EU countries’ own experiences. The aim is to provide EU countries with tools and opportunities for discussion by leveling all (interested) EU countries to a similar degree of knowledge.
Task 9.3: Collectively identifying key uncertainties and (national and pan-European) challenges using scenario analysis and advanced modelling
In this task, scenarios for possible future pathways of COVID-19 will be developed. The scenario development will follow a systematic process. Based on the capacity built in task 9.2, the most relevant trends and key uncertainties will be identified. Based on the identified trends, possible short and long term consequences regarding direct and indirect health impacts will be explored and the most important societal challenges arising from these trends (as well as a set of indicators) will be identified. When possible, the analyses will be supported by integrated, advanced model-based simulations.
Task 9.4: Developing guidance in identifying promising policy strategies (translating the information into knowledge)
The scenarios provide possible images of the future and the associated societal challenges. To target these challenges, this task will identify promising policy strategies. Sequentially, the identified policy strategies will be discussed and further operationalised through policy dialogues (as a continuation of the scenario exercise).
Attention will be paid to the main issues that should be addressed within the countries´ strategic planning. A workshop meeting with national counterparts will be organized to identify gaps and needs regarding the preparedness of countries in facing future population challenges. The workshop will be used as a platform to discuss gaps and proposals from WP9 outcomes.
The leader and co-leader of this work package are: