Health Capacity and Vulnerability in Context of COVID-19 Outbreak: An Analysis of 185 Countries

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic, Disease outbreaks, Epidemiology, International Health Regulations


Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has affected most countries, afflicting severe damage. Mitigation measures to control the pandemic rely heavily on existing health capacity and vulnerability of each country. The health capacity and vulnerability with respect to COVID-19 outbreak for 185 countries was assessed in this study to identify those where capacity-building needs to be prioritized.

Material and methods: The State Parties Annual Reporting data based on WHO International Health Regulations monitoring and evaluation framework was used to extract an indicator for national health capacity. Another indicator for vulnerability was extracted from INFORM epidemic risk index. These metrics were selected after evaluating their complementarity and availability.

Results: Among 185 countries, 111 (60%) had health capacities at level 4 and 5 with most of them having vulnerability at level 3 and 4. Twenty-two (11.89%) countries had level 2 health capacity in place coupled with moderate to high vulnerability. Among continents, Europe had best while Africa had worst mean functional capacity and vulnerability scores.

Conclusions: The results showed that most countries had sufficient response and reaction capacities to handle the pandemic. However, resources, intensified surveillance, and capacity building should be prioritized in vulnerable countries with ill-equipped national health capacities.

Author Biography

Shaheer Ahmed, Medical Student, Islamabad Medical and Dental College, Islamabad, Pakistan

Medical Student

Original Articles