An adequate public sector and people involvement needed to overcome pandemic

Contributed by Ugly and Joe Montero

People are starting to help their neighbours. They find novel ways to communicate. Online communities to lend a hand are starting to appear everywhere. A range of organisations no longer able to continue normal functions, are seeing what they can do to help.

Although at times, the arrival of the COVID-19 outbreak has brought out the worst, it is also bringing a rise in compassion and many prepared to lend a hand for the well being of others. Positive examples encourage others to do the same.

This is not new. It is what happens at times of crisis. We saw this during the recent bushfires. Where there’s a difference, is that everyone is caught up in this pandemic, and it’s effects will be deep and last much longer.

The same is happening in other countries. Doing things for each other, even seemingly modest initiatives, like isolated neighbours singing together from their windows and balconies, or having a drink together. It all helps to build a sense of community, belonging and support, drawing people together to meet the challenge.

Italians sing in solidarity out of windows amid Coronavirus isolation

Video from A Mura

A stronger community brings out the best in people, and it is vital to combatting this crisis.

Nations with governments sharing compassion and community are much better placed to play their role. This is not the only factor. But it is an important one.

If the labels are put aside, the whole world knows and should admit that that little Cuba and China have shown a lead, each is helping more than 30 countries with supplies and personnel. Even Venezuela, with its own internal problems is to it’s bit to help others.

Russia is helping other countries as well, and has just sent a giant Antonov AN 124,1000 heavy military transport full of medical equipment and masks to the United States.

This is helping the United Sates, as the toll mounts.

Russian plane heads to US with supplies for virus fight

Video from AFP News Agency

Contrast this with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and especially the European (EU), which have so far been able to do little more than make proclamations, despite urgent pleas for help.

Practical and real aid being provided by some, is a major boost to the global effort to fight the pandemic. Irrespective of political differences, this is the truth of it. If the governments of some other nations were to put the politicking aside, welcome all help, the world could work together more effectively. Viruses don’t have a political persuasion. They attack all indiscriminately.

Lessons should be learned from those who are succeeding and now in a position to help others. Vietnam, South Korea, and the Czech Republic have also scored an impressive result.

One of the factors standing out among the successful, is a public national health system as the overwhelming method of service delivery. The experience is showing that this is the best way to respond quickly at the front line and commit the resources needed.

Nations without this advantage are finding it much harder to come out on top.

The prime example is the United States, which has now become the epicentre of the outbreak. The death toll has now reached about 1,000 per day and it is rising, hampered by an inadequate private health system, and too costly for many to get any help. The reason is the reluctance of the political leadership to intervene and interfere with the operation of an unfettered market.  

Coronavirus: US hospital workers say more medical supplies needed

Video from Al Jazeera English

American people are no different from anyone else. Many are doing their best to help. But they are doing so in a difficult situation.

Focused on their bottom line, the private hospitals have gone so far as to threaten doctors and nurses with the sack, if they dare to speak to the public about how the pandemic is being dealt with and the shortcomings.

Battling Coronavirus Inside a N.Y.C. Hospital

Video from The New York Times

Some nations have a sizeable private health sector alongside their public ones are not doing as well as they could either. Europe comes to mind. Spain has just decided to nationalise the private hospitals as a result.

There are other factors of course. But it has become clear that a universal public health system is important in overcoming the pandemic with the minimal of cost.

Australia is in something like Europe’s position, although worse than most of its members, with a public health system whittled down over years, with funding cuts and a significant degree of privatisation.

The combination of a health system up to the task, a government willing to take the necessary action and an engaged and participating community is the combination that makes all the difference.

Scotland’s leader calls out for volunteers to help

Video from STV News

There are longer term implications. Everyone knows that post pandemic the world will have changed. The economic situation will be worse.

We have been found to be woefully unprepared for a major crisis, and entered a world where underlying economic realities and global climate change will bring about, more frequent and deeper shocks. not nearly enough is being done to avoid them or minimise their impact, if they still come about.

Life’s reality will strengthen demands for more effort and putting people ahead of the market.

Experience is teaching that working together and helping each other, iss an important part of the answer. This might not be quite so clear as it has become in some other countries. It will change as the pandemic hits harder here.

1 Comment on "An adequate public sector and people involvement needed to overcome pandemic"

  1. Linda Miller | 5 April 2020 at 1:00 pm | Reply

    Putin’s proposals that sanctions be lifted etc, and the provision of medical aid via military are perhaps not entirely opportunistic?

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