I would like to salute all the health care workers and givers on the front line against the coronavirus and appreciate the efforts of the respective governments in an attempt to control the spread of the novel coronavirus.
As the world keeps getting more civilized, with trade routes connected all over the world, coupled with contacts with different populations of the people, animals and different ecosystems, pandemics like the novel Coronavirus are likely to become common.
It’s important therefore that the governments’ world over, draw lessons from this pandemic and work against such surprises in the future by emphasizing several areas, amongst which are the following;
- Strengthen the Public Health System, The World Health Organization (Abuja Declaration 2001) recommended 15% of the total annual budget to be spent on the health sector, however, this is rarely the case in all African union member states that endorsed this declaration, in Uganda according to the 2018/2019 budget, the Health ministry got about 7.4% almost half of the (WHO) Abuja declaration/recommended Health sector budget. The pandemic has exposed how investment in improving public health is lacking even in developed countries. Public Health remains a big political issue that continues to merit discussions about the actions of the Political leadership in handling such outbreaks. It’s important to note that Politics affects public health at a fundamental level.
- Prioritize Research; we must listen to science, numbers and data. During the outbreak of the Spanish flue 1918-1919 that claimed 40-50 million people worldwide, the research found that there was a strong link between the early, sustained and layered application of measures such as school closures and bans on public gatherings and the speed of the spread of the virus. Social distancing equally proved a powerful tool in fighting the Spanish flu virus. such research is as important to pandemic response as the vaccine for the virus.
- Give attention to preventive health not only in the times of crisis but at every opportunity that presents itself, educate the masses about the various methods to prevent diseases in populations such as eating healthy, exercising regularly, sleeping under a mosquito net and enactment of relevant bylaws for example that require pit latrines for every household to prevent diarrhoea and other related diseases etc.
- Make adequate preparations for such pandemics and other surprises, disease outbreaks, droughts, fires, floods are getting more intense as the climate warms, climate change has been declared a global emergency yet to date the world has failed to address it, preparing for disasters is cheaper than the alternative, building early warning systems, strengthening National reserves, doing regular assessments are key to mitigating these risk factors.
- Integrate science, Technology and Innovation, such as the use of advanced technology in health care management that use artificial intelligence and smart devices to improve the health care value chain, enact laws that guide the use of telemedicine as a crucial intervention to increase access to universal health care coverage.
- As we prepare to emerge from the shutdown, and probably struggling with stimulus packages to revive the economies (particularly African economies) let’s exploit any opportunities that may have come with this virus, let’s produce masks and test kits, medicines and other medical supplies, lets form coalitions with like-minded states in the region to exploit other opportunities.
In the meantime stay home, stay safe, together we will defeat Corona Virus.
The writer is a Certified Risk Analyst