Existing methods of managing and securing public health may not work in the years to come with the increase in scale, frequency and severity of communicable diseases. Climate change and antimicrobial resistance continue to add further challenges. With the COVID-19 pandemic it has become clear that public health in our cities requires concerted efforts from all stakeholders in addition to what is done at the state and national level.
This playbook brings together learnings and experiences from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic to inform city-level action towards health resilience in the future. The playbook has been put together by Quicksand, a design research and innovation consultancy based in India. This work was anchored in 35+ dialogues and interviews with city and state officials, scientists, industrialists and other non-governmental actors in Bengaluru and Pune, through which we learnt from their experience of managing and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in their respective cities. These interviews were aimed at unpacking individual and group learnings, reflections and experiences to inform and inspire future action.
Understand how they created pathways between data and evidence to action. What worked? Why did it work? What can be improved?
How might we build on these achievements and apply learnings to other infectious diseases?
Both Bengaluru and Pune faced a range of challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic that any local administration will relate to, and empathize with. With both common and unique challenges, city administrators in these cities along with other partners came up with innovative measures to deal with the evolving nature of the completely unknown and unprecedented pandemic. These ranged from new collaborative partnerships with industry in Pune, to the exceptional use of technology for outbreak management in Bangalore. Through mapping these practices across various levels of the cities' responses and synthesizing them into actionable principles, this playbook presents concrete guidance for city administrators to manage the recurring stresses that the health systems in our cities are bound to face in coming times.
During the interviews, we adapted our conversations to respond to each respondent's role, availability and comfort because re-visiting COVID in itself was not easy. Many of our respondents would start by meticulously laying out their episodic memory of the crisis, before shaping it into something that was of relevance as takeaways for the future. These partners also provided multiple rounds of feedback on our initial drafts and contributed to the vision of this Playbook. We are immensely grateful for their generous and open sharing. This work also seeks to honor the collective work and innovation that various individuals and groups, both within government and , demonstrated throughout the pandemic. Through our interactions with them, we recognise more fully how complex an administrator's job is.
Through this playbook, we hope you can see the value of generative and shared learning through complexity and the connectivity of our work, despite our diverse locations and contexts. This participatory mapping of learnings focuses on interconnections and supports the sharing of experiences and learnings, so that the work that was done through the challenges of the pandemic can inspire several others in the years to come, to create new knowledge and practice that advances our shared goal of healthier cities.
The success of this playbook hinges on your participation. Together, we can transform reflection into action and shape a healthier future for our cities.
This playbook was created with support from The Rockefeller Foundation. We wish to thank all the experts we interacted with, for sharing their knowledge, perspectives and field experience with us. This project would not have been possible without their cooperation.
Megan Diamond and Manisha Bhinge from the Rockefeller Foundation provided us support and valuable direction and guidance through the course of this work. We would also like to extend a special note of gratitude to Dr Bhaskar Rajakumar, the former Head of the BBMP Central Covid War Room and Priyanki Shah from the Pune Knowledge Cluster for their valuable guidance and support in this project. We couldn't have gained access to and written about the policy ecosystems in the two cities without their help. We would also like to thank Rohit Satish from AI & Robotics Technology Park (ARTPARK), Poornima Sangewar and Niharika Gogate from PKC, So O'Neil and Divya Vohra from Mathematica as well as the Chase India team for their support and feedback.
In the following list, in Bengaluru we have referred to all our contributors by the positions they held during the pandemic unless indicated otherwise. In Pune, we have referred to all our contributors by their current designations, unless indicated otherwise.
Additional Chief Secretary, Rural Development & Panchayat Raj, GoK
Tushar Giri Nath
IAS, Chief Commissioner, BBMP [Current]
IAS, Principal Secretary, Department of Labour & Department of Information and Public Relations, GoK
IAS, Principal Secretary, GoK & Head, State Covid War Room, GoK
IFS, Chief Conservator of Forests & Head, State Covid Data Cell, GoK
IAS, Special Commissioner, BBMP
Dr Thrilok Chandra
Commissioner, Department of Health & Family Welfare (Health), GoK
KMAS, Joint Commissioner- East Zone, BBMP
Deputy Director, Mines & Geology Department, GoK & Special Officer: Central Covid War Room, BBMP
Dr M K Sudarshan
Head: Technical Advisory Committee, GoK
Chief Health Officer, Public Health, BBMP [Current]
Dr Mohammed Shariff
Deputy Director, DHFW, GoK & Member Secretary, Technical Advisory Committee, GoK
Dr Padma MR
Deputy Director, DHFW & Head, State Surveillance Unit, GoK [Current]
Dr Bhaskar Rajakumar
Head, Central Covid War Room, BBMP
Dr Maheshwari Bhaskar
Nodal Officer-Central Covid War Room, BBMP
Dr Deepak Nadig
Nodal Officer- Testing, BBMP
Dr Sushil Kumar Ichini
Nodal Officer-COVID-19 Vaccinations, BBMP
Dr Preetha Thomas
Epidemiologist, Mahadevapura Zone, BBMP
Dr Rehan Shahed
Nodal Officer- South Zone War Room, BBMP
Technical Head: State Covid War Room, GoK
CEO, ARTPARK, IISc [Current]
Dr Angela Chaudhari
CEO, Swasti Health Catalyst
Dr Chitra Pattabiraman
Consultant - Pathogen Genomics [Current]
Dr Harsha PK
Scientist, Strand Life Sciences
Dr Farah Ishtiaq
Principal Scientist, Tata Institute for Genetics & Society (TIGS)
Advisor, CHASE India
Dr Varsha Shridhar
Chief Enabling Officer, Molecular Solutions Care Health LLP
Dr. Priya Nagaraj
CEO, Pune Knowledge Cluster (PKC)
Software Engineer, PKC
Dr Pradeep Awate
State Surveillance Officer, Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) (during COVID-19)
Dr Amol Mankar
CEO, Zilla Parishad (during COVID-19)
Dr LS Shashidhara
Director-NCBS, Co-Principal Investigator-PKC
Senior Project Manager - Health, PKC
Dr. Varsha Dange
Senior Medical Officer, Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC)
Dr Sanjeev Wavare
Additional Medical Officer Health, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC)
Chairman & Managing Director- Pinnacle Industries Limited, Lead - Pune Platform for Covid-19 Response (PPCR)
Dr Mahesh Dharne
Principal Scientist, National Chemical Laboratory (NCL)
Dr. Joy Monteiro
Assistant Professor - Earth and Climate Science Data Science (Joint), IISER Pune
Dr Ameet Dravid
Infectious Disease Specialist