The role of governments in managing the COVID-19 pandemic crisis is what determines the outcomes in each country, among other significant factors.[i] This paper explores how government interference over the past few years has affected different government’s capacity to deal with the current coronavirus crisis as well as how their current interference will affect their future ability to deal with similar challenges.

The healthcare sector needs more than short-term government intervention; the intervention should be long-term and goal-oriented in order to make sure that problems are solved. However, some factors play a significant role in shaping government intervention, amongst which is the experience in dealing with previous epidemics and the political economy of the state. 

This paper tackles the topic by comparing three countries from the MENA region: Egypt, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), and Turkey. By comparing each government’s response, the paper argues that the political economy and previous similar healthcare experiences play a role in determining how each country responds to the coronavirus crisis.

These countries have significant differences in their regime type, the extent and nature of their social-economic status, and the diverse roles governments have played in the healthcare sectors. These roles have affected their crisis management and response toward the coronavirus crisis.

It is early to make an objective evaluation of government responses as the crisis has not fully unfolded. However, tracking government responses and comparing them to one another is a useful strategy to reach solid evidence regarding the best policies and strategies for coronavirus crisis management.

Traditionally, government intervention in the healthcare sector can take three forms:  financing, regulation, and delivery. The community and private sector both contribute to building healthcare systems.  However, in all cases, government intervention is a necessity in the healthcare sector, though the extent and content of this intervention may vary from one country to another.