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