Public health emergencies (PHEs), such as the COVID-19 crisis, are threats to global health and public order. In this recently published Commentary in the Journal of Health Research Policy and Systems, colleagues from the Access and Delivery Partnership, including Aparna Ananthakrishnan, Alia Cynthia Gonzales Luz, Sarin KC, Leslie Ong, Cecilia Oh, Wanrudee Isaranuwatchai, Saudamini Vishwanath Dabak, Yot Teerawattananon and Hugo C. Turner, recommend that countries bolster their PHE responses by investing in health technology assessment (HTA), defined as a systematic process of gathering pertinent information on and evaluating health technologies from a medical, economic, social and ethical standpoint.
The authors present examples of how HTA organizations in low- and middle-income countries have adapted to supporting PHE-related decisions during COVID-19 and describe the ways HTA can help the response to a PHE. In turn, they advocate for HTA capacity to be further developed globally and for increased institutional acceptance of these methods as a building block for preparedness and response to future PHEs. Finally, the long-term potential of HTA in strengthening health systems and embedding confidence and transparency into scientific policy should be recognized.