Culturally and linguistically diverse voices and views in COVID-19 pandemic plans and policies
Objective: This paper presents a rapid assessment of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic plans and explores the representation of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities in such plans. Four levels of pandemic plans were reviewed: regional, state, national and international.
Methods: Discussions with representatives from four CALD communities informed the development of search and selection criteria for the COVID-19 plans, which were gathered and assessed using a CALD lens. Six COVID-19 pandemic plans that met the inclusion criteria were critically assessed.
Results: The reviewed plans did not report any CALD community voices, views or consultations with community groups in the development phase, nor did they acknowledge the diversity of CALD populations. A few plans noted the vulnerability of CALD communities, but none discussed the challenges CALD communities face in accessing health information or health services during the pandemic, or other structural barriers (social determinants of health).
Discussion: Our analysis revealed major gaps in all pandemic plans in terms of engaging with immigrant or CALD communities. Policies and plans that address and consider the complex needs and challenges of CALD communities are essential. Collaboration between public health services, multicultural services and policy-makers is vital for the inclusion of this higher-risk population.