Gianfranco, Working to Beat COVID19 at the Ministry of HealthPUBLIC MANAGER IN THE MINISTER'S CABINET OFFICE, GIANFRANCO PASQUADIBISCEGLIE IS A SDA BOCCONI ALUMNUS FROM THE EXECUTIVE MASTER IN PUBLIC MANAGEMENT. HE EXPLAINS THE NEED TO COMBINE STRONG AND TIMELY DECISIONS WITH MEASURES THAT MATCH THE CONSTANLY EVOLVING EPIDEMIOLOGICAL FRAMEWORK
Looking inside his professional history, it is not surprising that political mediation is an acquired skill for Gianfranco. The apprenticeship as municipal secretary, then the experience in the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, up to the Cabinet Offices, by their nature a place of mediation between political priorities and the assessments of feasibility given by professional managers. A thorny theme in this crisis.
The complex governance of the battle against Covid19
I reach Gianfranco on the phone early in the morning. "Give me a minute, I'm getting off the train". Train? Where are you going? "Northern Rome, I am going to Vitorchiano, the HQ of the Civil Protection Department, where the National Operating Committee is located". On January 31, in fact, the state of national emergency was declared and the coordination of the crisis was entrusted to the Civil Protection Service. “The governance system to deal with the crisis is complex and has changed in the course of the last few weeks. The alert began in mid-January and on January 22 the minister set up a 24-hour task force composed by a general secretary, a diplomatic adviser, and by the directorates general for health planning, the health professions and personnel, the Italian Higher Institute of Health, the Spallanzani National Institute for Infectious Diseases in Rome, AIFA, AGENAS, but also the Ministry of Defense, ENAC for air traffic, and so on." Then the ball passed to the Civil Protection Department, which reports directly to the Prime Minister. "But the Technical Scientific Committee has taken an increasingly stronger role, becoming the daily interlocutor to take the decisions that were made in these days".
Defining the rules in times of an emergency
Governance aside, what are you doing daily on the Ministry of Health? “There are two main activities. Territorial coordination and definition of the rules. From the management of repatriations to operational indications for surveillance actions. For example, in this phase we are working on the measuring the need and scaling up the supply of medical devices to expand the response capacity in the area. The other piece is the regulatory function: all the DPCMs (the Italian Prime Minister's Decrees) are born here, precisely because they are health measures." All? Also the one about schools shutting down everywhere? “Even the one on schools, even if this came about abruptly with respect to earlier measures. But I would say that it is the exception to the rule that we had set for ourselves. "
Giving concrete answers and doing everything it takes to overcome the health crisis at hand
Have you ever expected to find yourself in the position of having to manage e similar crisis? “It is not the first health emergency we are facing, let us not forget the H5N1 virus, even if altogether of another magnitude. There I had a more operational role, I was in charge of the supply of drugs and medicines. Today it is clearly very different and I am more directly involved in decision-making. Managing this crisis means first of all combining the need to take timely and incisive decisions with the need to identify measures appropriate to the epidemiological framework, which is constantly evolving. Also, the measures taken should be in line with the recommendations of the international WHO and ECDC bodies. This is our present course of action.”
by Andrea Celauro
Translated by Alex Foti