Public Health Crises In Comparison: China's Epidemic Response Policies From SARS To COVID-19
Glob Public Health
The rate of infectious disease outbreaks has been accelerating over the past two decades, from the SARS epidemic in 2003 to COVID-19 in 2020. Termed by some as the twenty-first century's first pandemic, SARS originated in China and alerted the country to the importance of public health and epidemic response. After SARS, China improved its health infrastructure and reformed its political and legal health governance system. The emergence of COVID-19 from Wuhan in late 2019 put those reforms to the test. This paper analyses China's public health and epidemic response policies from a historical perspective, tracing the evolution of Chinese public health policies after the SARS outbreak in 2003. This paper assesses China's response to COVID-19 and how post-SARS policy reforms, particularly in epidemic response, played out on the ground in Wuhan. What policies worked well? What were the challenges faced? Based on the policy analysis, this paper presents recommendations for how China can improve its epidemic response through strengthened infectious disease surveillance, more transparent political coordination, and expanded public health infrastructure.