The Art Nouveau Site resident institutions have adapted their activity to current circumstances in record time. The majority have also reshaped a large part of their regular programme work to respond to the pandemic from their specific sectors.
In the field of healthcare, the contribution of the World Health Organization (WHO) Office for Health System Strengthening is of crucial importance. In addition to its regular programme in relation to healthcare systems management and financing, the Barcelona team is actively involved in the WHO/Europe response to the pandemic. For example, in answer to a request from the Spanish government for information about the management of Covid-19 in other countries, the Barcelona Office coordinated a WHO delegation visit to Spain from March 30th through April 2nd. The delegation visited Madrid, three other regions and several hospital installations. In mid-April a second meeting took place, and more are planned for the coming weeks.
From Barcelona, the WHO publishes recommendations for the reorganisation of health systems in the face of Covid-19. The team also participates in designing effective ways to monitor the response in different European states. Moreover, in collaboration with other experts, staff from the Barcelona Office draft reports on the adaptation of public health system financing to reduce the adverse effects of the coronavirus.
The United Nations Program for Human Settlements (UN-Habitat) just published a plan for a global response to Covid-19, which foresees and investment of 72 million dollars in Africa, Arab countries, the Asia-Pacific region, Latin America and the Caribbean. More than 70% of this support will go to marginal settlements. From Sant Pau, the Urban Resilience Hub provides support to many local governments in shaping policies and tools for resilience to overcome catastrophic events. The team also works with multilateral organisations to generate increased focus on the most vulnerable communities.
At the same time, Banco Farmaceutico works to reduce poverty’s negative impacts on health. Now, this non-profit organisation not only fights against pharmaceutical poverty, they also coordinate numerous additional activities to respond to the needs generated by the crisis. Since the state of alarm was declared in Spain, several public administrations and pharmacies have contacted the organisation to request that their regular medicine distribution service be extended to the elderly and other vulnerable groups. Banco Farmacéutico has also strengthened fundraising campaigns, which has made it possible for the organisation to provide healthcare and protective materials to people working in essential services: medical workers, taxi drivers, etc. Recently, they have also facilitated a donation of oral rehydrating serum for the staff of the Hospital de la Santa Creu i Sant Pau.
The Barcelona Health Hub, an ecosystem for innovation in digital health with headquarters in the Sant Manuel pavilion, is offering a series of webinars to share knowledge and explore how telemedicine can help to face the healthcare challenges brought on by the pandemic. Moreover, by early April, more than 50 of the hub’s members had designed services and technological solutions with the specific aim of reducing the impact of Covid-19. A few examples include: online medical consultations, applications to follow patient evolution, platforms and partnerships to raise funds, among others.
It has become evident that Covid-19 generates additional risks for individuals affected by pre-existing conditions. In the case of people with rare diseases, the public health crisis may negatively impact their ability to obtain required medicines or to keep medical appointments. For this reason, the European Organisation for Rare Diseases (EURORDIS) works to defend the rights of this collective. Internet and social networks have become essential tools to maintain effective communication and respond to the specific needs of these patients.
At the Barcelona International Public Policy Hub (BIPP HUB), a cross-cutting approach has emerged in response to the pandemic, a natural consequence of the organisation’s ecosystem which brings together a dozen international teams focusing on global challenges and UN Sustainable Development Goals. BIPP HUB’s multidisciplinary orientation has made it possible to generate knowledge and projects with a broad impact: from research, communication and denouncement of the effects of the pandemic on human rights and democracy, to the development of projects to promote economic recover at a global scale, taking into consideration the need to protect biodiversity, or the open source design of an device for the disinfection of sanitary masks.
In the sphere of public policy research and analysis, the Euro-Mediterranean Economists Association (EMEA) investigates possible government responses to the triple crisis affecting health, social and economic spheres. They are doing this in collaboration with a diverse network of scientific centres on both shores of the Mediterranean. Also, EMEA has recently published a scientific roadmap to point governments toward public policies that will support transparent, responsible, inclusive and sustainable development in the Mediterranean region.