The COVID-19 pandemic caused by the novel Coronavirus is showing that nobody is safe from getting infected. It doesn’t matter if you’re are black or white, if you’re are poor or rich, if you’re are healthy or sick, the virus can catch anyone, anywhere. In about 3 to 4 months, the Coronavirus has spread all over the world, affecting almost every country and region. This virus knows no borders.
“As the virus knows no borders, the collective reaction to this pandemic must also be managed without borders. Supplies must be sent to those most in need. Health workers must be protected so they can sustain the response over weeks and months. Sharing of data, knowledge, resources and health personnel can be game-changers in enabling national health services to cope. (…) In the struggle to contain this pandemic, no one should be left behind.” Dr. Christos Christou, Doctors Without Borders / MSF
A global issue needs collective response
It can be observed that countries try to close their borders to stop the spread of the virus, but they forget, that the virus is already everywhere. This virus knows no borders. As humanity is fighting this invisible threat, we can see that even countries with well equipped healthcare systems cannot handle the COVID-19 outbreak. At this time, the epicenters are to be found in the global north, in Europe and the U.S. Even there, the healthcare systems are overburdened. And the virus is far away from running off.
“The Future of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned from Pandemic Influenza” published on April 30, 2020 by CIDRAP, the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, reports that the pandemic will last up to two years:
“The length of the pandemic will likely be 18 to 24 months”.Experts already warning that this disease will spread in the global south, where many people living under precarious circumstances, often with little or no access to running water and healthcare. This could lead to unbearable problems and a collapse of the weak healthcare systems, which are already running down due to insufficient resources. Whilst the warnings are little-noticed, the virus is spreading quickly around Africa and the global south.
“COVID-19 is a respiratory disease with mild or moderate symptoms for the vast majority of people who catch it, but it causes quite serious complications among those at risk, especially the elderly and people with other medical conditions.” From Ebola to COVID-19: West Africa must learn from the past and protect vulnerable people, MSF, 31 Mar 2020
Strengthen hygiene and infection prevention measures
The collapse of healthcare systems will first effect the most vulnerable groups. Newborn, young children, elderly or people who are already struggling with other medical conditions, like hypertension, TB, HIV, cholera, measles or circular malaria outbreaks.
“Most countries have already taken measures to stop the spread of the virus, such as closing aerial borders, banning gatherings and closing schools, without going as far as total confinement for the moment. If they make it possible to slow the spread, these measures will, however, affect the economies of countries and populations that often live from day to day. They will also impact vulnerable people in countries already dealing with humanitarian crises. (…)
Yet, it is imperative to strengthen not only the response to the humanitarian crisis but also hygiene and infection prevention measures, in order to stop the virus spreading in a country where access to water is largely insufficient.” From Ebola to COVID-19: West Africa must learn from the past and protect vulnerable people, MSF, 31 Mar 2020
Learning from the past should lead to an lasting increase of public healthcare systems. People need access to health protection and cure at any time. There is a huge demand for healthcare facilities, and rather a need of basic equipment, necessary drugs and as well health professionals. As the healthcare systems in West African countries are week, they could easily collapse during a heavy COVID-19 outbreak.
Strengthen social protection systems
Beside the impact on the healthcare systems, the measures to stop the spread of the virus will affect everybody’s life. The International Labour Organization ILO is warning: “As job losses escalate, nearly half of (the) global workforce (is) at risk of losing livelihoods.”
Social Protection means, that people have “access to health care and at least a basic level of income security throughout the life course is critical.”
“Lessons learned from previous epidemic outbreaks, such as the SARS, MERS and Ebola outbreaks, demonstrated that the lack of social protection measures in the context of health epidemics aggravates poverty, unemployment and informality, leading to a vicious circle of even greater fragility.” ILO, 23 April 2020, Factsheet: Social protection responses to the COVID-19 crisis
In Africa, where many people are living from day to day, from hand to mouth, and depend on informal economies, the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic is able to bring millions of people in serious trouble. It will increase poverty and inequality.
Especially people working in the informal sectors or without any kind of social protection system will be hit harder by losing livelihoods. The informal economy includes barter of goods and services, mutual self-help, odd jobs, direct sale activities, self-employed small enterprises like street vending, sewing, artisanry and small farming. Vulnerable people will be affected more than wealthy people. Stuggling hard for every day’s life make it hard, to follow the safety instructions to prevent infection with COVID-19.
“Governments, together with social partners and other stakeholders, should use the COVID-19 crisis as a wake-up call to strengthen their social protection systems, says the International Labour Organization. An analysis shows that countries that have effective health and social protection systems in place and that provide universal coverage, are better equipped to protect their populations from the threats to their livelihoods posed by COVID-19. However, countries that lack a robust health and social protection system will need to develop policies and interventions in an ad hoc way, which is likely to lead to a limited and delayed response.” ILO Press release, 24 April 2020: The COVID-19 crisis: A wake-up call to strengthen social protection systems
Serious respond: practice preventive measures
If somebody catches the virus or not, everyone will be affected more or less by the outgrowth of the global pandemic. The people have to take this pandemic seriously. To do so implies first to practice preventive measures. As far as everybody can’t stay at home, sanitation and basic social distancing can be practiced by everyone. If do so, we can protect ourselves and others by stopping the spread of the virus.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a powerful reminder that, in our interconnected world, a weakness in one nation’s health and social protection system poses a risk to public health everywhere. Global health inequalities must be addressed as a priority. Thus, the crisis has once again called attention to the importance of ensuring universal access to social protection systems that provide comprehensive and adequate benefits that meet people’s needs. (…) This renewed recognition should lead to increased global cooperation for the adoption of universal social protection systems everywhere. Several policy observations and recommendations can be derived from this crisis. ” ILO, 23 April 2020, Factsheet: Social protection responses to the COVID-19 crisis
The Coronavirus is serious, doesn’t matter if it came from humans or nature. We must take it seriously, prevent ourselves, our families and friends for a better future. People have to learn to share globally, then if the health care system is weak in one place, it will hit everybody. Only global solidarity can help us find a way out of this impasse. While keeping social distance, we have to come together, to help each other — through cash or kind. Already, the whole world is in it together.
Global solidarity have to be sustainable. Global solidarity must go beyond fighting COVID-19. This disease is not the only one killing people. Hunger is all around, in many places of this world, like in West Africa, the health care system is insufficient, the malaria season is soon coming etc.
The COVID-19 crisis will bring more hunger to this world. To combat COVID-19 confident of victory, we have to fight poverty, in fact we have to abolish poverty globally. For a good life for all.
About The Peoples Collective
The Peoples Collective is a group of friends in Gambia who joined forces in order to build a solidarity network of mutual neighborhood support in the midst of the Corona pandemic. The Peoples Collective is of and from the people since its not some charitable cause but a mutual sharing of resources between neighbors and likeminded people. We recognize the country is going to be hard hit in the areas of food and basic resource related like sanitation materials; we decided to put our own meager resources together and to call out for help since we can’t cover all of these expenses ourselves.
For more information visit our blog: peoplescollective.blackblogs.org
If you like to support, please contact us: thepeoplescollective(AT)riseup(DOT)net