COVID-19 Pandemic: a Litmus Test of Trust in the Health System

Asian Bioethics Review 12 (2):213-221 (2020)
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Abstract

The pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV2 novel coronavirus is creating a global crisis. There is a global ambience of uncertainty and anxiety. In addition, nations have imposed strict and restrictive public health measures including lockdowns. In this heightened time of vulnerability, public cooperation to preventive measures depends on trust and confidence in the health system. Trust is the optimistic acceptance of the vulnerability in the belief that the health system has best intentions. On the other hand, confidence is assessed based on previous experiences with the health system. Trust and confidence in the health system motivate people to accept the public health interventions and cooperate with them. Building trust and confidence therefore becomes an ethical imperative. This article analyses the COVID-19 pandemic in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu and the state’s response to this pandemic. Further, it applies the Trust-Confidence-Cooperation framework of risk management to analyse the influence of public trust and confidence on the Tamil Nadu health system in the context of the preventive strategies adopted by the state. Finally, the article proposes a six-pronged strategy to build trust and confidence in health system functions to improve cooperation to pandemic containment measures.

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