I thought I would take a break from my usual health related blogs to express my feelings as we start to come out of Lockdown.
I know there are many that have lost their lives due to this pandemic, before I proceed I would like to pay homage to such and pray that their souls all RIP.
That being said COVID-19 has effected change beyond our imaginations. There are things that I will miss post lockdown and there are changes I hope will be inspired by COVID-19. I’ll start with a list of things that I will miss….
Pollution: For a brief moment we all experienced breathing fresh air, got to hear birds sing and appreciate looking up to see empty blue sky’s even in traditionally polluted cities across the world. COVID-19 has made a mockery of all those who have resisted the creation or implementation of robust policies to help tackle pollution and clean up our world as we were all forced to take a step back and let nature rule.
Key Worker Celebrities: In a world where we have become engrained in celebrity culture with some worshipping celebrities, it was refreshing to see a light shone on those that keep society alive and moving. We found out that key workers are true celebrities that have long been underpayed and underappreciated. (Note: this includes not just the obvious health professionals, but also our supermarket staff, food sellers & producers, delivery drivers, healthcare assistants, domestic cleaners, carers, bus drivers etc.- who all took pride in rising to the task).
War: Who would have believed a tiny virus would cause the likes of Saudi Arabia and various terrorist groups to put their activities on hold?…even if just for a little while. COVID-19 showed us that we can end all the ongoing wars and conflicts if we really want to. It was great to see the world at peace for once……we know that normality is returning as the wars and indiscriminate killings are slowly starting to resurface.
Being Our Neighbours Keeper: It was great if, even if just for a season to see everyone looking out for the next person. To see political parties united against a common enemy. To see drug dealers in places like South Africa working with the police to meet the needs of others in their community. To see young people looking out for their elders…..the list goes on and highlighted a basic human fact… we are communal beings that need each other…..
Equality: COVID-19 was no respecter of persons, it affected the rich and poor alike. Prime Ministers, Presidents and various dignitaries were affected alike. In Africa, the failure of many leaders to invest in their local health care systems whilst accessing healthcare abroad came back to haunt them, as a number of them fell victim to COVID-19 but struggled to access timely healthcare abroad due to several countries closing their borders and rightly focusing on their indigenes….for once, they got to experience the daily reality of many of their citizens that suffer and struggle to access basic healthcare on a daily basis.
As life starts returning to normal, there are many silver linings to this pandemic and things I hope will change for the better in a world Post- Lockdown. Here are my top 4!
Institutionalised Racism: Many Blacks have long remained silent on this for the fear of making others uncomfortable, and have accepted it as a fact of life. On the other hand many White’s have refused to accept that ‘White Privilege’ exists and many benefit from it whether they like it or not…it comes with the territory. At times courageous blacks have stood up to complain about issues related to discrimination, and been labelled ‘troublemakers’ with many of the ‘labeller’s often considering the likes of Oprah and Obama to be a reflection of the whole black community. The #George Floyd killing has sparked a global revolution and inspired honesty on both sides of the coin. It has been refreshing to say the least, to see all colours of people protesting, recognising and acknowledging these two simple facts- Institutionalised Racism & White Privilege truly exists and it is a global problem that will require honesty and global solutions to solve.
Health Inequalities: Its been well known within the health sector that ethnic minorities are more vulnerable to many chronic diseases. Black people in particular are considered more vulnerable to diabetes, hypertension, kidney failure, prostate cancer, fibroids…..the list goes on. The truth is health inequalities are driven by many factors including class, poverty, literacy etc., but the one thing that has come to light thanks to COVID-19 is that Institutional Racism affects health……in that many ethnic minorities are more likely to be affected by drivers of health inequalities and less likely to be in positions affecting key health policies which relate to them.
Health Care Delivery: COVID-19 shone a light on the value of a public health care system easily accessible to all. In past years there have been significant cuts and pressures on staff to save money and reduce expenditures with reduced budgets. Staff have been forced to accept pay cuts, go without rises linked to inflation, and department and sectors like pharmacy forced to shut down as a direct result of a distinct lack of investment in the NHS. The NHS has struggled for years when it comes to funding, not always because of a lack of funding, but sometimes with the way money is spent. For example, consultants are often hired for millions to tell executives what many health professionals could tell them for free. I hope to see the powers that be recognise, invest and compensate NHS key workers and sectors like pharmacy fairly and appropriately for their jobs, skill set and willingness to put their life on the line in the interest of the health and well-being of others including our politicians.
Building Local Capacity: For years the whole world has relied on the Chinese manufacturing industry, COVID-19 led to a significant decrease in global trading with many struggling to access PPE because their were few if any local manufacturers of gears. Similarly in the pharmaceutical world, we have relied on China & India to produce drugs and associated raw materials to the detriment of local industries. This is a global issue, but what I hope is that COVID-19 will inspire governments to invest in and keep local manufacturing industries alive by nurturing and supporting them.
So there you have it, for just a moment COVID-19 did what no world leader has ever been able to do- it enabled world peace and stability to reign, even if just for a season. It also highlighted and shone a bright light on issues that have been swept under the carpet for far too long. I for one am looking forward to living with the positive changes I hope to see as a direct result of COVID-19, and will play my role in effecting those changes. It has started with this blog….. What will you miss and what do you hope to see and do Post Lockdown??