[205] Hope after Corona – Globalised Health

Covid-19 has confronted with the crucial role of health care. In these five articles I take you over five questions we have to ask about health care for the post-Corona world. Today: do we need a globalised health care system?

  1. Must governments invest in Health Care?
  2. Is Health a Marketable Good?
  3. Does health care reward in the long-term, other than in terms of money?
  4. Do we need a globalised health care system, such as the World Health Organisation?
  5. Are health care workers heroes?

They are standing on the balconies, applauding loud into the darkness of the winterish evenings. The American Wave spreads over various countries during Covid-19. While the invisible enemy was fought, the audience applauded for its soldiers. If Covid-19 taught us anything, it was to thank our health care workers and feel the urgency of a dedicated health care system.

 A Global Attack

When Covid-19 made its first steps in Wuhan, China, nobody expected it to become a global pandemic. The first information that leaked showed Covid-19 as an innocent disease, similar to a regular flue, yet at the same time Wuhan was taking draconic measures to stop it from happening.

This caused a gap between what was said and what was done.

If we were about to deal with a flue-alike disease, weren’t this kind of measures out of place? Or was the measure adequate, but was the information about the disease inadequate?

While Wuhan was dealing with the impact, the remainder of the world was preparing for impact, yet, they did not know which impact to prepare for exactly. Should they take draconic measures, or should they prevent panicking so people wouldn’t go stockpiling products such as toilet paper? Should they prevent the spread from the disease or should they go for herd immunity (get as much people infected, so eventually the entire population would be immune)?

Once Covid-19 had spread over the world, it became clear a global attack was necessary. International flights beside national flights were grounded, and national borders got closed, on top of all national measures taken.

Soon it turned out that many countries lacked sufficient medical equipment, and staff, so countries started assisting one another. Moreover, the race for a vaccine and a treatment, and the spread of knowledge, became as globalised as possible, with scientists all over the world working on the same issues. We stood together or we stood not at all.

Let’s beat the beast together.

The official start of this global attack was given by the World Health Organisation, which declared Covid-19 as a global pandemic on March 11th, 2020[1]. As from that date they would facilitate the spread of knowledge, and the coordination of the global attack.

An Attack by Donald Trump

Sounds perfect arranged, if it wasn’t that this World Health Organisation was under attack itself. By no one less than US President Donald Trump. It might have been a part of his general tendency of attacking other institutions, countries and people, of which I’m not even going to bother enlisting them since the list of those who haven’t been taken under fire would be smaller. Globally.

A month after the WHO declared Covid-19 as a global pandemic, president Trump accused it from failing in its basic duties in its response to the outbreak. The consequence would be the States’ withdrawal of financial support. President Trump told in a conference at the White House that he directed his administration “to halt funding while a review is conducted to assess the WHO’s role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus.”[2]

A Counterattack by the Others

At the other side of the ocean on both sides, were the counter attackers. There were various European leaders, such as the French President Macron, as well as the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morison, demanding the same organisation to enforce its power. They pleaded for an independent research committee to find out the real cause of Covid-19.

China responded immediately with trade boycotts towards Australia.

Sometimes, a refusal for cooperation and information means more than any information given.

A Familiar Attack

Even tough, we might never know the truth about the origin of the virus, nor about the exact reason why it had spread as far, the pleas for an independent research are important, since they might show us how we (1) can prevent another disease to spread globally, as well as (2) how to coordinate a future attack more efficient.

Covid-19 wasn’t the first disease of its kind. Covid-19 is part of the Corona viruses – hence the name corona pandemic. Earlier on other Corona viruses already showed their pandemic potential, such as MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV)[3]) in 2012 in, and SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome[4]) in 2003.

However, these diseases stayed confined in a certain region of the world, and caused respectively 866 and 774 confirmed deaths worldwide solely, compared to the 346,000 thousand deaths COVID-19 have caused so far, and counting.

A Hidden Attack

Covid-19’s infectious degree is unseen high. Moreover, the precise nature of transmission of the disease is still not completely understood. For instance, it is not sure if infected people can pass on the virus even before showing the first symptoms. Moreover, it is not even sure of asymptomatic patients can spread the disease. Further on, the time between infection and first showing of symptoms can be 1 to 14 days, with exceptional cases report of even 24 days[5].

Hence, one might transmit the disease without even knowing it.

So, should countries treat every disease as the potential source of a pandemic, go in lockdown for some weeks until research has shown its ‘innocence’? Would that be feasible, viable, and even desirable?

Research showed that if the USA would have went into lockdown only one week earlier in March, it could have saved an estimated 36,000 lives[6].

What if Wuhan would have went into lockdown immediately after the first suspicious long-related disease was discovered, which by then wasn’t known yet by the name Covid-19? It might have been two to four weeks of extreme measures for one city in the world, yet it would never have turned into months of measures in the entire world. Let alone, the 346,000 deaths (of which 4,634 in China).

A Past Attack

One might argue now that they couldn’t have known, that it is easier to talk afterwards. And they are right. Partly. They did not know that the falsely claimed long-infections where the first victims of what would turn out to be a highly infectious disease, later on called Covid-19.

But this scenario had happened before. And precisely therefore, this doctor in Wuhan rose alarm when he treated these patients. He might have recognised the symptoms of a Corona-virus, similar to SARS or MERS. But he was silenced.

Moreover, after SARS and MERS, scientists and epidemiologists sat together and discussed how a next pandemic would arise and which measures to take to prevent them. But that fatal day when Covid-19 arose in Wuhan, and later when it started crossing the borders, we seemed to have a collective amnesia, preventing us from preventing the global pandemic.

Future Attack

I’m not a scientist, nor familiar with the operation of the World Health Organisation. So, it is definitely not up to me to tell how we should handle a future pandemic. Therefore, let it up to those who do know, those who do have enough experience, knowledge and means to handle it.

A world health organisation might be best positioned, if they could work independently of any country, and if they have effective power. If they can have access to transparent information, and be able to enforce their action plans, countries can work with them as soon as a similar disease shows up.

Obviously, therefore as well, they must have the respect and thrust of all countries globally, in contrast to president Trump’s position.

As usual, we cannot turn back the time, but we can take our lessons to improve the future. Therefore, we must listen to the lesson in the shouting of the grotesque attack of president Trump, and the counterattack of those other nations. If the global attack of Covid-19 could have been more efficient, it would have been by addressing these critics, and the conditions I enlist above to construct an effective world health organisation.

Global Attack

With the increasing globalisation, we have the moral duty not only to enjoy the advantages like global trade and tourism, but as well to face the global risks and take care of each other by creating this kind of global health organisation.

As we learned now, it would have been better to prevent the outbreak of the disease by cutting it straight away when it manifested at first, than by letting it run over the world, rule the world, and eventually ruin the world.

As the case of Covid-19 has shown, therefore alone, we need to take up our global responsibility to act upon any disease straight away, which won’t be acted upon if not enforced by a global, independent and respected health institutions.

If we won’t create this, we can start preparing for the next lockdown, the next pandemic might be already on its way.

Therefore, in times of Corona and beyond, tomorrow I’ll discuss if our health care workers are really heroes.

This article is part of the series of Hope in Times of Corona. Read

  1. How this too shall pass
  2. how this times of self-isolation should not mean loneliness,
  3. how you can contribute to this battle, 
  4. how gratitude lights up the dark,  
  5. how united we will stand strong
  6. on the most util strategy in awake of a crisis 
  7. how I got blown of my feet as well, but caught by many caring hands, 
  8. how being calm can get us through the storm.
  9. about Love in Times of Corona
  10. how to discover your own talents 
  11. why we need stories to hold on to 
  12. how you can be creative and innovative.
  13. how to spend your mot valuable assets in times of Corona.
  14. how to listen to the sound of silence. 
  15. How breath taking Corona really is.
  16. discover the other freedoms Corona has shown us, 
  17. about the new-born freedom Corona gave us.
  18. about another way to exceed your personal bubble.
  19. about the position of nature in this entire story
  20. about nature bouncing back
  21. about the crucial choice between resilience and resistance
  22. about the game to play
  23. about star gazing in dark times
  24. About looking for Meaning
  25. About how Music Connects
  26. about what Easter and Corona have in Common
  27. About the Shark and the Turtle
  28. About the Irony of Distance
  29. Why to Hold on
  30. Fake News
  31. about The Big Unknown we live at
  32. about Feeling Alive
  33. About turning obstacles into opportunities
  34. about what the Birthday of my nephew learned me about life 
  35. About where we should go from here?
  36. About coping with incertitude
  37. About the Great War and the Great Pandemic, and we should not forget
  38. about history’s most important message, echoed by corona
  39. How one country could rule them all
  40. About how to prevent the next Green Pandemic 
  41. about how we are experiencing a new episode of our history books
  42. about when the poppy flowers
  43. about what’s in a number
  44. masks off, how a friend in need is a friend indeed
  45. What’s Next. after we flattened the curve?
  46. how will our personal story look like in a post-corona world?
  47. why we should never let a good crisis go too waste.
  48. How Spring can happen in Autumn
  49. How to unlock the lockdown
  50. Why education matters
  51. How we can give meaning to the meaningless deaths. (rethink health care)
  52. The remarkable marketability of health, or not?
  53. the remarkable rewards of health

Or wait until tomorrow, when I’ll shine another light on yet another positive corner of this dark times.

[1] http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/health-emergencies/coronavirus-covid-19/news/news/2020/3/who-announces-covid-19-outbreak-a-pandemic

[2] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52289056

[3] https://www.who.int/emergencies/mers-cov/en/

[4] https://www.who.int/csr/sars/en/

[5] https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/03/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-clinicians.pdf

[6] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-52757150


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