What you need to know:
- Covid-19 has shown the need to devote resources for future epidemic prevention
- It has also shown us the need to create cost-benefit models to evaluate the timing and various types of shutdowns.
- Adequate resourcing is a crucial first step to providing effective universal health coverage.
Covid-19 has irreversibly disrupted the philosophies, processes, and systems of societies across the globe.
The pandemic has created two overarching global crises — one in public health and one economic.
In the middle of the health pandemic, however, we are learning many powerful lessons. We now recognise how important the smallest of things we took for granted are.
There are many lessons in the wake of the pandemic. Whether it is strengthening public health systems, making online education safer and more accessible, addressing poverty and social exclusion, tackling violence against women, or creating greener, more sustainable economies, the pandemic marks a historic opportunity for a fresh start that governments and societies should take.
The first lesson is how to better prepare for the next pandemic or any other emergency having equivalent disruptive capacity.
Covid-19 has shown the need to devote resources for future epidemic prevention, and create cost-benefit models to evaluate the timing and various types of shutdowns to save lives without excessive economic disruption.
In the face of growing threats from pandemics, governments especially in low and middle-income countries should allocate an initial minimum of five per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to public health by 2030.
Adequate resourcing is a crucial first step to providing effective universal health coverage. Funding for this should be raised by fiscal reforms based on fair and progressive taxation and improved public financial management. More than this may be required as a longer-term target to address growing pandemic and climate crisis risks.
Health and social workers, as the frontline fighters in the battle, have the highest risk of exposure to the virus. They have suffered in terms of fatalities more disproportionately.
In the post-Covid world, countries need to create healthcare systems that protect and insulate health workers in secure ways.
More investment is needed to address critical health staff shortages, especially in frontline categories, and deliver expanded, more resilient, gender-sensitive healthcare systems through enhanced recruitment, remuneration, equipment, and professional development.
The international community, including financial institutions, should increase the funding available to national health systems to respond and build better from the pandemic. Donor agencies should build on previous support by prioritising efforts to rapidly strengthen health systems and coverage, while all creditors should expand debt relief measures through cancellations or suspensions.
Beyond the health sector, the pandemic has shown how the internet can sustain learning via online classes and jobs. Investing in connectivity for all will be key.
The lessons should trigger policies, legislations, programmes and initiatives that address weakness in institutions in handling crisis and also the social iniquities that the pandemic brought to the fore.