By Dr Carlos Madrigal- Iberri

During this Open Online Briefing with Dr. Nabarro, I realized that local efforts are crucial in order to stop and overcome this pandemic. My opinions of this session will address one main topic: What can we learn from governments that are successfully controlling the virus and how to implement those learnings in developing countries?

According to WHO statistics, COVID-19 is affecting 213 countries and territories around the world, and the number of new cases are rising at an astonishing rate. So far, we have learned many lessons but probably, one of the most important is that we are just at the beginning of this sanitary crisis.

Different strategies had been taken from some countries where they really took on board many communities’ members, such as heads of states and business, civil societies, universities, local entrepreneurs, etcetera and this is how they could put themselves ahead of the virus.

New Zealand for example, has declared itself as a COVID-19 free country. Aware that they cannot close the borders and live forever in the lock down, they teach every citizen in the country about the threat that this virus represents to their lives.  The Public Health Department focused on preparing the entire population to know what to do in case someone gets sick and explained the importance of how these measures can get them ahead of the virus.

Germany and Ireland are other good examples of how the adequate organization and straightforward communication between government and society truly works. The measures taken by these countries are focused on assure to their citizens that if there is a new outbreak they are prepared to stop it as soon as possible and they can offer protection to the most vulnerable people, the older and the factory workers. 

So far, we have learned that strong leaderships and deep commitment to face this crisis is the more solid strategy to overcome the pandemic that is going to live with us from now on. Unfortunately some other countries, are not dealing with the situation by these learnings. USA, Mexico and Brazil are three particular cases where their leaders had diminished the danger of this virus to their population and by not setting a clear direction, the amount of cases continues peaking every week. Because of not having a nationwide effort to make citizens conscious of what this threat means to their lives, these three countries are some of the most deadly places where you can get sick of Coronavirus. It still does not seems like they can stop the transmission soon.

Despite the beliefs and non-logical declarations that had been made for these three leaders of state, the COVID crisis will not disappear from one day to another a huge effort is needed between governments, academia, healthcare systems and citizenship in order to reduce the risk of infection. The message must be sent loud and clear: The virus will not magically evaporate; we need to increase the physical distancing and adequate hygiene measures. Continuous education and disease awareness are imperative to isolate contagious persons, particularly in very dense populated areas if we want to stop deaths due to coronavirus.

The virus is becoming almost endemic in many places and also the economic crisis is arising, by being certain that the population really understands the nature of the disease, we are closer to reduce the transmission and adapting ourselves to a new reality. We must recognize that this condition affects specially people living in poverty and we need to keep a constant and intensive effort to clear away the barriers that endangers these minorities.

Against presidential obstruction, local communities can and empowering themselves to defeat this condition, we do not need government permission to change our behavior, to getting organized, to keep physical distance and frequently wash our hands. Being part of the change is a personal decision and spreading the adequate information should be our responsibility. If we want to make a sustainable change, we must start by ourselves and to involve our communities.


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This article is a reflection by Dr. Carlos Madrigal- Iberri following the COVID-19 Open Online Briefing of Dr David Nabarro on 9 June 2020. It forms part of a collaboration between 4SD and One Young World to inspire greater systems leadership amongst youth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Carlos is a Medical Doctor & One Young World ambassador who is deeply committed to Global Health. He serves on the Board of Salvando Latidos a non-profit organization, which provides free medical care to low income populations; during this pandemic, they are fundraising to provide protective personnel equipment for hospitals facing COVID-19 in Mexico. He has also been actively working for Novartis Mexico to bring to public agenda Chagas Disease, which is one of the 17 Neglected Tropical Diseases determined by World Health Organization and the second cause of heart failure in Latin America.

Carlos states, “In order to make a difference in public health, the world needs people that are willing to join forces to make this problem a part of our past, and not a new threat to our future”.

COVID-19 Open Online Briefing #23
Tuesday, 9 June 2020
17:00 – 18:00 CEST

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/