The repercussions of COVID-19 around the world are very visible: the economic havoc on global markets, the skyrocketed number in unemployment, the thousands of lives it has taken (the WHO reports that out of the 5,206,614 confirmed cases as of 25th May, 2020, 337,736 deaths have been confirmed in 216 countries), not to mention the very core of human life the pandemic through Social distancing has taken from us – the love we share as family and friends. As Governments take unprecedented actions to curtail the effects of the pandemic, ease restriction measures and open up economic activities, there has been a call for a global response to deal with the pandemic and its resulting havoc. A major concern is however, placed on the economic recovery of nations as against sustainable safety net programs for the hardest hit group. In order to protect vulnerable persons against possible similar crisis in the future it is necessary that we take a second look at response strategies. A tweet pinned on the Twitter page of the President of Ghana, Nana Akufo Addo reads: “We know how to bring the economy back to life. What we do not know is how to bring people back to life”. Well said, however, forgetting that any future occurrence might take more lives and cause more havoc to health systems than expected. Ghana has one of the poorest health care systems in the world but now recovery programs are based on business as usual. How could we forget so fast the lives we have lost?
One major step taken ahead of the fight against the effects Covid-19 has roiled on nations is the recent Video Communication between the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel and the President of France, Emmanuel Macron. The two leaders in a video conference “agreed to support a 500 billion Euro ($546billion) aid package to help the European Union” deal with the fallouts of the pandemic. This recovery package is to bolster integration in the EU by helping hardest hit nations like Italy and Spain. As wonderful as this Franco-German initiative sounds, it only seeks to support the revamp of industries, building machines and ignoring the people that build the machines. The Government of Ghana also seeks to support small scale industries under his “Anidasuo no Aba!” (Hope is here!) initiative. These Initiatives whether in Europe or elsewhere pays a very less attention on a package for vulnerable people. Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation has recently warned of another likely pandemic. How prepared are Governments should this really occur? A report from the Indian Psychiatric Society says there has been a 20% rise in the number of Mental Health Illness during the Novel Coronavirus Lockdown. Elsewhere, the Nairobi based Oxfam predicts a global rise in the number of extreme poverty by 434 million people resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic, especially in developing countries. The report states that women are at the highest risk than men. (https://www.france24.com/en/20200409-oxfam-world-bank-poverty-coronavirus-imf-world-bank-epidemic). In most of the developing nations however, women take care of households more than men. This implies that household poverty will increase than ever expected. It is in this vein, very essential that as Governments navigate the effects of the Novel Coronavirus pandemic, attention is also placed on Social Safety Net Programs than just doing business as usual.
An Inclusive Recovery Plan is a necessity
As we navigate the current pandemic and its backlash it will be very prudent to develop a sustainable plan that will protect vulnerable persons. Greg Gutfeld of The Greg Gutfeld Show stated on Fox News recently saying, “We’re doing a terrible job in dealing with our elderly population.” I couldn’t agree with Greg more. He went further to state that, “we need to upgrade and revamp our Nursing Home facilities, think of new ways to house people. We say children are our future. But who gave them life?”, he said. All over the world the work of elderly persons – Grandmas and Grandpas in the nurturing of young ones has been so phenomenal. In the U.S.A most Nursing homes for the elderly are breeding grounds for infectious diseases. Hygienic and better care measures can only be found in places where the inmates are financially strong. Similar instances exist in Germany and other European nations. In developing countries most elderly persons are hardly receiving pension returns or any form of aid at all. Persons with Disabilities have to either depend on family members for existence or beg for food on the streets. Measures to ramp up the economy must therefore, of a necessity, include their needs. It must be one that will protect persons that were hardest hit by the pandemic and lockdown measures. A good safety net measure must include a Public Fund in every nation. This will not only bolster health systems but also cater for the health of vulnerable persons.