UN Sri Lanka launches ‘COVID-19 Asian Recovery Stories’

Tuesday, 9 June 2020 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


  • Bringing together regional experts to share insights on policy interventions – academics from National University of Singapore and Hanoi School of Public Health will discuss learnings from Singapore and Vietnam and their application to Sri Lanka, with local policymakers

As the world grapples with responding to COVID-19 and its devastating impacts on lives and livelihoods, it is imperative that we learn from global responses, recovery measures, and policy interventions. 

Through the webinar series, ‘COVID-19 Asian Recovery Stories’ the United Nations in Sri Lanka is convening a group of regional academics to share their evidence-based research with Sri Lankan policy makers, influencers in Government, the development community, private sector, civil society and the media, to formulate policy interventions that can be applied to Sri Lanka. 

Asian countries have been at the forefront of some of the most successful interventions and sobering lessons on containing the spread of COVID-19, as well as tackling the socio-economic effects caused by control measures, such as widespread lockdowns. 

Speaking on the launch of this unique convening platform UN Resident Coordinator Hanaa Singer stated “In this current dynamic environment, being agile in identifying, contextualising, localising and applying fresh insights is vital for successful policymaking. The UN in Sri Lanka is convening experts to tap into such thinking and promote learning from public policy interventions closer to home. ‘COVID-19 Asian Recovery Stories’ is a cross-learning platform that allows for sharing of emerging insights from Asia as we enter a new phase of response.”

The first webinar in the series will focus on ‘First Responses by Vietnam and Singapore’, to discuss important learning, data and questions that can be applied in public policy interventions across the region. The discussion will take place on 10 June at 11 a.m. and those interested are invited to follow and pose questions on Facebook Live via the UN Sri Lanka Facebook Page. 

Dr. Sarah Bales, visiting Professor at Hanoi University of Public Health, will elaborate on the Vietnam experience as an early success story in quickly and effectively containing the Coronavirus pandemic, with total cases limited to just 328 people and zero deaths. This rapid response has seen economic and social activity return to normal after just a month of social distancing under stay-at-home orders.  Speaking ahead of the event Dr. Bales said: “Vietnam remains vigilant and cautious, placing priority on human lives and disease control while figuring out safe ways to boost economic activity. During the discussion, we hope to analyse measures implemented by Vietnam to achieve this, contextual factors that supported the effectiveness of this approach and the way forward.”

Sharing insights from Singapore, Dr. Reuben Ng Assistant Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, and Dr. Patrick Daly Senior Research Fellow at the Earth Observatory of Singapore, will present different areas of evidence generation that are informing the country’s pandemic response. 

Dr. Ng will present “emerging insights from public responses in the region – observed through big data analysis of social narratives based on a 10-billion-word platform of over 7,000 online sources across 20 countries”.  Dr. Daly will examine “how the COVID-19 pandemic is exposing the trade-off between hazard mitigation versus the probability and consequences of a hazard, as well as recent data collected in Singapore to discuss how citizens perceive the risks and impacts, and how they have been adapting to cope with the mitigation measures – with some segments of the population disproportionally impacted by both the virus and the ‘cure’”.

As noted by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, this virus is unprecedented in our lifetime and requires an unprecedented response. There must be a time to look back fully and understand the spread and reaction to the crisis. The lessons learned will be essential to effectively address similar challenges, as they may arise in the future. 

Through the webinar series ‘COVID-19 Asian Recovery Stories,’ the UN in Sri Lanka will continue to bring together experts to share insights, spark discussion, and engage in building back better.