Addressing vulnerabilities in communities facing infectious disease threats: A need for social science-driven assessments
In the current COVID-19 crisis, global and national public health authorities and organisations are searching their toolbox of methods and approaches to communicate to and connect with populations. As with HIV/AIDS or Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in West Africa, it became quickly apparent that the participation of those most affected by the disease, and communities in general, play a central role in understanding how to best shape and implement response efforts. The same holds true for COVID-19 in 2020: there is an urgent need to understand the ways public health measures and interventions reach and affect communities and how these heterogeneous and complex groups can contribute to an effective response in times of crisis. This recognition of the importance of engaging with communities has proved to be the point where the social sciences may again play a crucial role.