Covid-19: where is global solidarity?

By Carter Seleka

Both the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting economic crisis are global problems and they require global cooperation and solidarity. In oth­er words, sharing of information and experience is of vital importance. That’s the big advantage of humans over viruses.

A coronavirus in China and a coro­navirus in the US cannot swap tips about how to infect humans. But Chi­na can teach the US many valuable les­sons about coronavirus and how to deal with it.

What an Italian doctor discovers in Milan in the early morning might well save lives in Tehran by evening. When the UK government hesitates betwixt several policies, it can get advice from the South Koreans who have already faced a similar dilemma a month ago.

But for this to happen, we need an in­domitable spirit of global cooperation, coordination and, most important­ly, trust. We are facing a massive life-and-death battle, and countries should be willing to share information openly and humbly seek advice, and should be able to trust science and data and the insights they receive.

Furthermore, we should pull togeth­er in one gigantic effort to produce and distribute medical equipment. A global effort could accelerate production and make sure life-saving equipment is dis­tributed more fairly.

The same way countries repurpose and nationalise key industries dur­ing a war, the human war against the coronavirus may demand of us to hu­manise crucial production lines. A rich country with less cases of the corona­virus should be willing to send crucial life-saving equipment to a poorer coun­try with many cases.

In the event later on that the focus of the pandemic shifts, help could start flowing in the opposite direction in the spirit of global solidarity underpinned by the philosophy of ubuntu, which is reflected in the idea that we affirm our humanity when we affirm the human­ity of others. After all, we all belong to one race, the human race.

Global cooperation is also badly need­ed on the economic front. If each gov­ernment does its own thing, the result will be chaos and a deepening crisis. In this regard, a global plan of action is urgently needed.

The African continent, which, by and large, has poorly resourced health-care facilities and a burden of viral diseas­es, will be the hardest hit by this deadly new pathogen. President Cyril Rama­phosa, the current chair of the African Union, needs to be commended for his leadership and stewardship for the vir­tual meeting of the AU bureau of heads of state and government he convened early this month to discuss the Afri­can response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is hoped that through such meet­ings the AU managed to develop a com­mon approach to match the scale of this pandemic. One of the most powerful resources Africa has is its indomitable spirit of resilience.

Yet every crisis is also an opportu­nity. We must hope that the pandem­ic will help humankind realise the acute danger posed by global disuni­ty. The best way, in this instance, is to choose the path of global solidarity. • Ambassador Seleka is a veteran diplomat


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