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The Chamber’s corona committee started on Friday by hearing three experts: Yves Coppieters (epidemiologist and professor of Public Health at the ULB, Floor Lams (expert crisis management) and Leila Belkhir (infectiologist at the Cliniques Universitaires Saint-Luc).
The three experts confirmed the problems that arose in the first phase of the crisis, ranging from the problems with protective equipment (e.g. mouth masks), the problems of coordination, division of competence and communication, etc … Infectiologist Belkhir was the sharpest. “There is a lack of transparency, coherence and clear communication. That feeds conspiracy theories and undermines public confidence ”.
Influence on policy
It is striking that all three experts had comments and questions about the way in which scientific experts have been deployed in tackling the crisis. According to Prof. Coppieters, for example, questions can be asked about the way in which a limited group of experts has influenced policy. “All decisions were made by a small group of scientists, but those decisions did not always meet what we needed in the field,” added Prof. Belkhir.
Expert crisis management Lams also does not think it logical to work with the same group of experts in a broad crisis such as the corona pandemic. She advocates a “transdisciplinary flexible expert group” in which a fixed group of experts, depending on the phase of the crisis, is supplemented ad hoc with other experts. “The corona crisis is not only a health crisis, but also an economic crisis, for example. Then you have to be able to look beyond just the health aspects, ”says Lams.
The three experts also insist on better coordination of the crisis. According to Prof. Belkhir it is still “confusion everywhere” on the ground. Floor Lams argues for a “performing national crisis system” in which there is unity of command from the federal level. But then there must be more clarity about the powers and the precise division of roles.