Dear Troppodillians, please welcome Luke Slawomirski to Troppo. I first met Luke at the OECD where I gave a paper on public-private digital partnerships with a particular focus on health policy. Luke was an Australian health economist working there and he’s recently returned to COVID free Perth. Anyway, I said I’d welcome a guest post from him and here it is. Nicholas
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to observe several groups of citizens deliberate on how their local health services should be managed in terms of provision and access. This approach could help policymakers navigate some upcoming challenges of COVID-19 crisis.
At the time, I was sceptical that a citizens’ jury could produce more than a wish-list of costly services and interventions. I was wrong. The 20-or-so jurors, randomly selected from the electoral roll and led by a strong, well-versed facilitator, quickly grasped the economic concepts at play: resource scarcity, opportunity cost, diminishing returns and even vertical equity – the unequal but equitable treatment of unequals.
In this way, the jury helped local policymakers define concepts such as health ‘need’, provided guidance for setting priorities that require value judgements and inevitable trade-offs when trying to do the most with limited resources.
Citizens’ juries date back to the ancient Athenian practice of sortition, a practice that involved citizens in the executive functions of government. More recently, they have gained traction in health and other areas of public policy.
The unique challenges of covid-19 illustrate its potential advantage and signals that perhaps their time may have truly arrived.
A SARS-Cov-2 vaccine is uncharted policy territory Continue reading