May 21, 2021
The world has not surpassed the problems of epidemics

The widespread of the Coronavirus (COVID19) during the year 2020 reveals that the world has not surpassed the problems of epidemics, and revealed the strong interconnectedness between the pandemic and environmental problems, dietary patterns and lifestyles. It also revealed the weaknesses of health systems, especially in the developed countries of the world, and the gaps in scientific research in this field. Also, it reconsidered the need for an integrated approach to health affairs, the importance of prevention, and solidarity, healthy and friendly lifestyles for people and the environment. Finally, it also revealed the seriousness of the privatization of health systems and the importance of the role of the public sector and public policies in preserving people's health and care and facing epidemics.

Overcrowded hospitals, truck convoys ferrying the dead to swiftly constructed cemeteries, and exhausted doctors and nurses struggling to save lives with scarce resources provide evidence of the inadequate capacity of healthcare services to handle the outbreak even in high-income countries. Starting with the developed countries, the prevailing assumptions that developed countries are protected from epidemics and infectious diseases, and that they have health systems, early warning systems, monitoring and follow-up, and adequate preventive and treatment capabilities have turned out to be out of place1. In fact, the economically developed countries suffered the most, and their health systems were deficient in more than one country. Model estimates indicate that the burden on hospital resources in the United States of America and the European Economic Area (EEA) at the height of the first wave of the epidemic in April 2020 was much greater than the capacity of hospitals to absorb. Although there are assessments of emergency preparedness requirements in the aftermath of the 2014 Ebola outbreak that claim to identify hotspots for future infectious diseases, there have been insufficient precautions and preparations taken in advance or in the event of a new pandemic.

There was great disparity in the health and social effects of Corona, and not everyone was affected by the same level. In general, the effects were more severe in countries without social protection systems. According to a new analysis from the ILO, “the COVID-19 crisis has revealed devastating gaps in social protection coverage in developing countries, and recovery and future crises prevention will only continue if you manage to transform dedicated crisis response measures into comprehensive social protection systems”2. The effects of Covid-19 were also evident in countries with high inequality, in which protection does not extend to all residents, especially in those countries that do not provide the same quality of care for all citizens, as happened with very high deaths in elderly care institutions. The effects were also severe for informal workers, refugees and migrants. This raises the priority of equality as a value and a first principle in any development path, especially in times of crisis.

For decades, an ideology prevailed that promoted the idea of ​​the failure of the public sector and the impressive success of the private sector, especially in the Arab countries, and the attempt to privatize various areas of life, including health. What the Corona pandemic revealed is that the public health sector was the first line of defense for the health of citizens (which was evident in the Arab countries as well), and that success in facing the epidemic depends to a large extent on the effectiveness of the government, its agencies, institutions, and policies, before anything else.

On the other hand, the spread of the pandemic revealed fundamental flaws in the prevailing development model governed by the priority of economic growth, and in its moral and ethical basis. The major countries controlling global decisions have not given strong signals that they have drawn appropriate lessons from the spread of the virus. Despite the pandemic being global and globalized, there was piecemeal and unilateral responses from the specific countries most of the time. Instead of solidarity between people and countries, there was a severe delay in protecting developing countries from the transmission of the pandemic to them, in addition to a trade wars and satisfactory competition to produce the vaccine with the aim of profit once again, accompanied by a campaign against the World Health Organization and a burden of responsibilities. Moreover, there was an indication of increasing authoritarian tendencies and admiration for countries that imposed the greatest restrictions on individual and personal freedoms, which worked in favor of containment of the pandemic.  Also, technology was used on a large scale to monitor the details of people's daily life, suggesting a trend towards using these methods for considerations that have nothing to do with health now and in the future.

The future of mankind and the planet, and the ability to face wars, crises and disasters that are ultimately a matter of policymaking and choices made by those in power and decision, are contingent on the transformation into a new development and civilization pattern based on solidarity among people, human rights values, social justice, and harmony. With the planet and its natural environment. These are the lessons of the Corona pandemic.

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