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Since the outbreak of COVID-19, governments across the world have been seeking to limit the impact of the pandemic on health and society. Health care systems in different countries have taken a variety of different approaches to managing the pandemic, such as expanding capacity and postponing routine care. Countries now face common challenges – including how to address backlogs of unmet care need. As we move towards recovery and rebuilding health and care services, what can we learn from the experiences of other countries? 

At this event we were joined by experts from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the EU Observatory on Health Systems and Policies and NORC at the University of Chicago to compare international health system's responses to COVID-19.

We looked at:  

  • how international health care systems have responded to the pandemic, including policies on funding, workforce, governance, and changes to how care is delivered

  • how resilient health care systems have been to the crisis, including how the UK compares to other countries 

  • what lessons we can learn to inform health policy for the future, including how we can strengthen health system resilience after the pandemic.


Hugh is Head of Policy at the Health Foundation.

Hugh joined the Health Foundation in 2018. He leads the Foundation’s policy team, which works to analyse, understand, and inform national policies on health and social care in England.

Before he joined the Health Foundation, Hugh was a Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice at the University of California, San Francisco, and Berkeley. Hugh’s research in the US focused on health system approaches to addressing patients’ social and economic needs, like unstable housing and food insecurity.

Before that, Hugh worked at The King’s Fund as Senior Policy Adviser to the Chief Executive, where he published research and policy analysis on a range of topics, including national NHS reforms, integration of health and social care services, and opportunities for health systems to improve population health. He also provided policy advice to the NHS and government.

Hugh has also worked as a management consultant at PwC, working on health policy and improvement, and on Sir John Oldham’s Independent Commission on Whole Person Care.

Hugh Alderwick, Harkness Fellow and Assistant Director of Policy at the Health Foundation

Josep Figueras, MD, MPH, PhD (econ), FFPH is the Director and cofounder of the European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. In addition to WHO, he has served major multilateral agencies such as the European Commission or the World Bank and has worked as policy advisor in more than forty countries within the European region and beyond.

He is Co-chair of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Monti Commission, and member of several governing, advisory and editorial boards including the governance board of the European Health Forum Gastein. He is honorary fellow of the UK faculty of public health, received the Andrija Stampar Medal for excellence in Public Health and a Doctorate Honoris Causa from Semmelweis University; and he has three times been awarded the EHMA prize for best annual publication. He is currently visiting professor at the London School of Economics, and external examiner at London, Maastricht University. He was director of the MSc in Health Services Management and lecturer at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. He started his career as specialist in Family and Community medicine in Spain.

headshot of Josep Figueras

Caroline Pearson is a Senior Vice President at NORC at the University of Chicago, where she leads the Health Care Strategy group that provides research, data analysis, and policy support to a wide range of health care clients. Her recent work has focused on the international delivery system response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Her other areas of expertise include pubic and private health insurance, prescription drugs, and the changing needs of older adults.

Prior to joining NORC, Pearson spent 14 years at Avalere Health, a strategic advisory firm located in Washington DC, where she was the Senior Vice President for Policy and Strategy. In this role, Pearson oversaw teams delivering consulting services and products focused on policy, strategic communications, and financial services. Pearson also led the firm’s external PR strategy by producing novel analysis to inform the public policy debate. 
Pearson also served as a senior advisor to Sandbox Industries, which is responsible for managing the BlueCross BlueShield Venture Fund. She sits on the board of directors for a non-profit, provider-sponsored health plan.

headshot of Caroline Pearson

Mark Pearson is Deputy-Director for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs (ELS) at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). 

Since 2009, he has led the Organisation’s work on health, demonstrating that a strong health system is essential for a strong, productive economy.  Through his leadership, the Organisation has focused helping countries develop effective policies to prevent harmful lifestyle choices; to modernise their health care workforce; and to digitalise the health sector more rapidly. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, he has supported countries in their crisis management, and led the OECD initiative on safe international mobility.  
Before joining the OECD, Mr. Pearson was employed by the Institute for Fiscal Studies in London, and has been a consultant for the World Bank, the IMF and the European Commission.

Mr. Pearson is British, and has a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford, and an MSc in Economics and Econometrics from Birkbeck, University of London.

headshot of Mark Pearson


Jennifer was Chief Executive of the Nuffield Trust from 2008 to 2013. Prior to this, she was Director of Policy at The King’s Fund and was the policy advisor to the Chief Executive of the National Health Service between 1998 and 2000. Jennifer has undertaken research and written widely on health care reform both in the UK and internationally.

Originally trained in medicine, Jennifer practised mainly paediatric medicine, prior to a career in policy analysis. She has a Master’s in public health and a PhD in health services research from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In 1990–91, Jennifer was a Harkness Fellow in New York.

Jennifer has served as a Board member on several national regulatory bodies: the Health Care Commission 2004–2009; the Audit Commission 2003–2012; and the Care Quality Commission 2013–2016. She has led two national inquiries for government: on the setting up of published ratings of quality of NHS and social care providers in England (2013); and on the setting up of ratings for general practices (2015). She was also a member of the Parliamentary Review Panel for the Welsh Assembly Government advising on the future strategy for the NHS and social care in Wales (2017–2018).

In 2009, Jennifer was elected a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, and in 2019 was elected as a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. She was awarded a CBE for services to public health in 2013, and a Doctor of Science from Bristol University in 2016. She has held visiting professorships at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the London School of Economics, and Imperial College Business School.

Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive of the Health Foundation

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