COVID-19 has brought out the best of humanity. But also exposed a lot of hypocrisy about global health solidarity even as policies of national and sub-national selfishness have worsened inequalities. But in a tiny corner of India, the villagers didn’t lament their leaders nor their gods. They conquered the pandemic by taking matters into their own hands. Their lesson for the wider world is neither new nor complex. But easily overlooked in our sophisticated technocratic age. What can the world learn?
What is the long-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on what were once the universal and benign values of health? Our health is now a matter of national security and we are all conscripted as soldiers.
Today’s soldiers are smart. They launch missiles and drones from a safe distance behind computer screens. And when they are obliged to venture out, they are forewarned by intelligence and well protected by their armour.
In contrast, more and more civilian aid workers, protected by little more than their sense of righteousness, serve at chaotic frontlines, and are pressured to bear witness and provide succour…come what may. Unsurprisingly, some of them are bound to be harmed.
But it is not just being in the wrong place that puts humanitarian workers at risk.There is increasing mistrust of the humanitarian enterprise either because its practitioners are not so scrupulous nowadays or their efforts can be easily abused for other ends. Besides, in a world of impunity where bad behaviour is a norm and there is rarely any accountability for hurting aid worker, it is simple to target humanitarian access as part of warmaking tactics.
Could it be that it is not random bombs and bullets but the erosion and abuse of humanitarian principles (including by careless humanitarians themselves) that is killing more of them?
When the world is not able to travel, distances of the heart grow faster than bodily distances. And we understand less and less about places not visited. Terrible atrocities can then flourish so easily behind closed borders. Worst of all, as our worldview shrinks, we stop caring and growing ourselves. The sooner the world re-opens, the better for both our sanity and our common humanity.
Universal coverage with COVID-19 vaccination is essential to control the pandemic and sustain recovery. What current issues will determine our success? Will the post COVID-19 world be a better one?
How to give thanks for all that we have the good fortune to enjoy is a complex business and how do we do this in the COVID-19 era? Thanksgivings from around the world give us a clue on the art and science of doing it right.
Reflections on the millionth death from #COVID-19.
25 September 2020 – Mukesh Kapila Today, during the General Assembly marking the 75th anniversary of the United Nations, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights organises a high-level event on participation as a human right when tackling global challenges. A recent seminar by PlatformA and the Parliamentary Assembly of the MediterraneanContinue reading “Trading-off human rights with public health in the name of COVID-19”
17 September 2020 – Mukesh Kapila Some ten months after the first case was reported from Wuhan and, as the world COVID-19 meter clicks on relentlessly towards 30 million confirmed SARS-COV-2 infections, the Independent Panel For Pandemic Preparedness and Response meets for the first time today. It’s leisurely gestation has not matched the rapid evolutionContinue reading “Will the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response restore the world’s trust in the fractured post COVID-19 global health system?”