By Lucky Aziken
Following a COVID-19 Online Briefing with Dr David Nabarro, Special Envoy of the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General on COVID-19 and Co-Director of Imperial College institute of Global Health Innovation, I will be sharing key thoughts on how we can prepare for a thriving world in the midst of a pandemic. According to Dr David Nabarro, a COVID-Ready State is one that is able to stop transmission, build the health system’s capacity and create a balance between the health of citizens and that of the economy.
The COVID-19 Pandemic is a global health crisis unlike any in the last 75 years. It is killing people, spreading human suffering and even transforming into an economic crisis. Health care systems in many nations are at the brink of collapse as the structures are unable to hold the demands placed on it. There have been numerous cases of widespread community infection going on in different countries and this has necessitated the strict measures of lockdown in different parts of the world.
The harsh reality is that the coronavirus is not going away soon. To protect our collective existence we must all learn to live with it as a threat and adapt our lives to a new normal.
These are 3 P’s that can be considered as we aim to build strong resilient societies and businesses.
At the heart of this pandemic are people. The virus has no wings; it has been flying through human carriers from one nation to another since it was first discovered in December 2019. We can only effectively contain the spread when we intensify efforts in helping infected and uninfected people limit transmission by adopting right behaviours. At this time, the focus should be helping people form new habits that are COVID-compliant. As easy as it sounds, it can be challenging especially among older people who have gotten used to doing things in a particular way. Even though it is said, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, we must all resolve to unlearn, learn and relearn. Some of the realities of our new world:
- We may not be able to convene in large groups anymore. Physical distancing will become a new norm having to be at least 2 metres (or 6 Feet) from each other.
- Moving around with face protection to cover our noses and mouths in public spaces will be a universal style as we learn new ways of communicating with our eyes.
- There would be greater need for personal and corporate hygiene such as hand washing and surface cleaning ensuring they are free of germs and microbes.
Learning these new habits is non-negotiable if we must win this pandemic. We must collectively work to help isolate people with symptoms and trace contacts to ensure the spread is contained. We must work together to protect the vulnerable population; people living in poverty, older people, those with disabilities, refugees and inmates.
In the majority of cases, all it took for people to be infected was for them to be in certain places. As we take care of people, we must also put ‘places’ at the core of the dialogue. How can we design places to be COVID-compliant?
Currently, the burden of COVID-19 is not equal universally because certain places have instituted more effective measures of control than others. We must attempt to create spaces that allow people carry on daily activities without compromising newly acquired behaviours. Changing people’s habits without a corresponding change in places will be frustrating, therefore, we must:
- Reorganize places and events that encouraged the large gathering of people making physical distancing impossible.
- Redesign workspaces and homes so people can effectively practice physical distancing and create isolation points when necessary at any given time.
- Build Hospitals and infrastructure for rapid testing and contact tracing to ensure we are able to quickly identify the spread of the infection.
It is important we set guiding principles that will ensure the universal application of all the control measures as one loose end in any location will sabotage efforts in other places. Right principles collectively agreed upon by States and consistently reviewed will safeguard the progress made per time.
- We must agree on the principles of universal rules for everyone, where no one is an exception.
- We must agree on the principles of collective dialogue and public consultation, where everybody contributes to the decision making process.
- We must decide to remain a global learning community, exploring new ways to thrive even in a pandemic.
HOW COVID-READY ARE YOU?
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This article is a reflection by Lucky Aziken following the COVID-19 Open Online Briefing of Dr David Nabarro on 12 May 2020 as part of a collaboration between 4SD and One Young World to inspire greater systems leadership amongst youth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lucky Aziken is an exceptional Optometrist working to provide sustainable access to quality and affordable eye care services in neglected communities in Nigeria. He is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Vision Care Givers International, a frontline Non-profit working in eye health, health education and community development.
He is a Commonwealth Scholar, Mandela Washington fellow, LEAP Africa fellow and One Young World Ambassador, serving as the chairman of the One Young World Healthcare local and global working group.
The views and opinions expressed in these reflections form part of the collaboration between 4SD and One Young World to inspire greater systems leadership amongst youth during the COVID-19 pandemic. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of 4SD as an organisation or it’s associated personnel. Any content provided by authors are of their opinion and are not intended to malign any religion, ethnic group, club, organization, company, individual or anyone or anything.
One Young World (OYW) is the global forum for young leaders. OYW identifies, promotes and connects the world’s most impactful young leaders to create a better world, with more responsible, more effective leadership. The annual OYW Summit convenes the brightest young talent from every country and sector, working to accelerate social impact. Learn more about OYW at https://www.oneyoungworld.com/