A more decentralized governance framework for pandemic response: A multi-stakeholder approach for COVID-19 preparedness and planning in Sri Lanka

Thushara Kamalrathne, Dilanthi Amaratunga, Richard Haigh

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The entire world is in an unprecedented dysfunction since 11 th March 2020 when the WHO declared a global pandemic as unprecedented health and socioeconomic issues emerged with the outbreak of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its associated 53 coronavirus diseases (COVID-19). This challenging pandemic has created a greater shock on regular activities of every social strata resulting in a significant decline in economic growth and health sector progression. A serious wearing down of infrastructure, human resources and emergency response in the public health sector was visible in many countries, irrespective of the level of economic and social development. In this backdrop, many scholars are exploring appropriate and effective resilient systems to govern pandemic risks in varied settings. It is observed that Sri Lanka's pandemic response is not properly embedded with the country's Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) framework and in many aspects, it is heavily reliant on the public health sector authority. In further elaborating the identified gap, this study explored many possible policy amalgamations that can be considered to improve the effectiveness of pandemic response activities at sub-national levels in Sri Lanka. Many government authorities, universities, volunteer agencies including NGOs, private sector organisations and the community can be efficiently integrated into pandemic response activities, vesting necessary responsibilities and authority for contingency and financial decision making at the sub-national level. This system further ensures the unique and contextual approach in pandemic response at the Divisional Secretariat level of each sub-region, which consists of diverse cultures. A large number of public officers are employed at District Secretary (DS) level in different areas of work such as finance, statistic and information, development, public health, livelihood, legal, police, child protection and probation, social welfare, elderly care, poverty alleviation, etc. within the public administration protocol adopted in Sri Lanka. These official positions can also be effectively integrated with the pandemic preparedness and response mechanisms at sub-national level.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCOVID 19: Impact, Mitigation, Opportunities and Building Resilience
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Adversity to Serendipity
EditorsRanjith Senaratne, Dilanthi Amaratunga, Shanthi Mendis, Prema-chandra Athukorala
PublisherNational Science Foundation of Sri Lanka
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9786245896004
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sep 2021


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