Post-Pandemic Outlook: The world I See
Until December, 2019, people around the globe were occupied with their own life. There were massive gatherings, crowded streets and non-spacious transportation. Today, the entire world has come to halt. We have seen disruptions in businesses, transportations, education and almost every aspect of daily life. This is the result of the novel coronavirus, which is also known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Millions of people have been affected and hundreds of thousands have lost their lives. This severe virus has challenged many physicians, healthcare professionals and healthcare systems all over the world.
However deadly the virus is, at some point the pandemic will reach the end of its acute phase. What would the global healthcare look in the post-pandemic world? The information below are evidence based and merely an article that showcases the possibility rather than a framework.
Healthcare professionals all over the world are struggling to understand the course of treatment for COVID-19. Since the mid 90s, global healthcare has started to focus more on non-communicable diseases rather than preparing for an outbreak of infectious or communicable diseases. Post-COVID, there will be re-training of healthcare professionals on outbreak of infectious diseases. Countries will start to re-educate their frontline workers and the curriculum for aspiring frontline workers will change for better.
HEALTH FOR ALL..
The current pandemic has not only affected the population but also exposed the inequalities in global health sector and also pointed out the socioeconomic gaps of these inequalities in developing countries more than developed countries. In the post-pandemic phase, the lessons learnt during these times, should be implemented into action by making healthcare available for all. In India, the accessibility of healthcare is not equal for all. The privileged find healthcare as convenience while the underprivileged think of healthcare as a burden and inaccessible. This needs to be changed, especially in developing countries. More policies should be implemented and more alliances with Public Health Organisations can improve and slowly resolve this issue.
All Nations and the Economic Corporations need to come together and complement UN and World Health Organization in supporting one another to address existing and arising health issues through better global governance. A global health security strategy must be implemented which not only aids in policies and guidelines for upcoming global health crisis but also enables in prevention, monitoring and response to epidemic or pandemic situations.
HEALTH SECURITY IS NATIONAL SECURITY
When the word National Security is brought up, it is viewed towards military threats such as attacks using mass destruction weapons. COVID-19 has proven to the world that health security is the most important contributor for national security. It comes as no surprise that even in developing countries less than 10% of its government expenditure is towards military and defense which is much higher compared to healthcare expenditure. Global and National disease surveillance systems are equally important as the ultra-modern military surveillance systems. In the post-COVID-19 phase, we can see a lot of nations prioritizing health security as national security, which can help prevent, detect, trace and eliminate any lethal viruses.
VACCINES AND MORE VACCINES
Vaccine research has been lacking funding for quite a few years now. Investment in vaccine R&D will be at its high in the post-pandemic phase. Governments will be more active in helping virologists to create new vaccines and research more regarding existing and potential viral threats to the population. There can also be certain changes to restrictive intellectual properties regulations, which can improve access and availability of vaccines in developing countries.
PUBLIC HEALTH AND SELF-CARE
Following the public health crisis, there will be a renewed purpose and stress on public health and self-care. The next era following this pandemic, there will be emphasis on public health strategies, health policy analysis and public health preventive measures.
Hospitals will remain overburdened post-pandemic as all the non-essential procedures cancelled during the pandemic will need to be addressed, hence, importance and adaption on self-care will increase. People will start to educate themselves and follow social distancing, self-quarantine and hygiene precautions religiously. Companies in self-care can also help by increasing production and availability of over-the-counter medicines.
Governments everywhere are preparing for an economic fallout and comparing it with THE GREAT DEPRESSION. We have not learned this lesson yet, but this economic fallout is not similar or nowhere near to The Great Depression. This economic crisis is something new and very uncanny. While unemployment is at rise, we need to understand that, the jobs that require social distancing like amazon delivery services or food delivery services are seeking employees while the jobs that do not complement social distancing are at a loss. Governments need to educate and promote regarding this new economic transformation, that can be known as THE GREAT ECONOMIC MISMATCH. Instead of funding trillions into jobs that no longer exists, governments need to redirect that funding into physical disjointed sectors that promote social distancing.
COVID-19, has shaken mental health of many individuals across the globe. Experts and healthcare professionals are afraid that a mental health pandemic maybe awaiting next. The post-pandemic phase is nowhere to seen in the near future. With the lack of vaccine and proper treatment guidelines, many people are scared to go out. This has increased in anxiety, stress, depression and insomnia in individuals. A lot of therapists have started helping people virtually, via video calls, texts or audio calls. Many people are coming forward to volunteer and provide virtual help to those who desperately need it. Hence, shift of providing healthcare virtually can also be the new norm in the post-pandemic era. It would also be a huge step towards a better world if there is increased promotion and education on awareness of mental health and removing the stigmatization surrounding it.
LET US CHANGE FOR BETTER
Hopefully, by end of 2020, the deadly virus may subside. Will going back to the regular world before a crisis this big make the world better? Definitely, not! Global leaderships need to realise that threats like Coronavirus are not going to end and this is just merely a beginning of lethal viruses. Hence, Nations need to take steps towards preparedness and awareness for such outbreaks. Healthcare needs to change to avoid further disasters like the one we are stuck in currently. Selflessness, Innovation, Equality, Unity and Transparency should be the new way of life for post-pandemic phase and for future generations. Let us hope a new beginning for every country across the globe.
Zoonotic Diseases: Public Health Crisis
WHAT IS A ZOONOTIC DISEASE?
Zoonotic diseases (also known as zoonoses), are usually caused by germs that spread between animals and human. In recent times, zoonotic diseases have been emerging causing impacts on human health and on economy of various countries and/or globe. According to WHO (World Health Organization), the world has seen 70% rise in emerging zoonotic diseases in humans. If we look into the history of zoonotic diseases, they are not new. The world has seen few infections transmitted by animals that impacted population across the globe. Few of those include, Plaque, Tuberculosis, Anthrax, Yellow fever and Influenza which are transmitted from domestic animals and poultry. With change in human behavior and the way we are evolving, emergence and re-emergence of infections caused by wildlife species has increased. In 2013-2014, WHO along with other health experts had predicted that the next pandemic or epidemic could be an animal transmitted disease or zoonotic disease.
MORE THAN HALF PATHOGENS!!
As per recent article, 38 pathogens have been identified in last 25 years, of which 75% are categorized to be zoonotic disease producing agents. It is also identified that, 80% zoonotic disease causing agents can also be used as biological weapons to impact the economy of a certain country or countries. There are numerous reasons on why there is an outbreak of zoonotic diseases, the main one being increase in human population and globalization. As the population is increasing, so is urbanization, which is leading to approaching environments that were previously untouched. This means coming in contact with new viruses and bacteria that are inherent in those environments. climate change, global wildlife trade, industrial animal farming, deforestation and bioterrorism are also considered as certain factors that can lead to outbreak of zoonotic diseases.
RE-EMERGENCE OR MUTATION?
If we look into the potential impact of emergence and re-emergence of zoonotic diseases globally. In 1999, the cost of outbreak of Nipah virus in Malaysia was estimated at US $625 million nationally. Globally, the SARS outbreak cost at US $30 billion. The population that are more vulnerable to these outbreaks are one`s closely associated with livestock and lower income population. When it comes to countries that are vulnerable and face the impact of zoonotic diseases are developing countries. These outbreaks become a heavy burden in addition to existing non-zoonotic diseases like cholera, malaria, meningitis and measles. As per WHO, it would cost about US $500 billion or 0.6% of global income to address a moderate to severe pandemic. An outbreak of epidemic not only impacts the economy of individual country, but the globe economy and the political relationship with other countries like agreements, opening and closing of borders. As per a recent study on outbreak of coronavirus in China, economists believe that economy of the country will slow down by 4.5%. Since, the COVID-19 outbreak has been contained in China, the economic growth will be much quick compared to rest of the world and especially United States of America, where there are 8,000-11,000 positive cases of COVID-19 daily.
ARE WE RESPONSIBLE?
Globalization is the highest contributor for spread of zoonotic infections in humans. Globalization has led to ease of transportation within the country and to different countries. Any type of transportation is easily accessible in recent years, which is leading to transport of not only humans but animals (wildlife trading) and animal products to different countries. As we are experiencing the biggest pandemic in recent times, COVID-19, a zoonotic infection which started in Hubei province of China, caused the entire world to stand still. The reason for quick spread of this infection is the ease of transportation. Travelling of infected population to different countries during the asymptomatic phase, lack of inspections at airports and lack of quarantine regime has led to failure in preventing the transmission, hence caused COVID-19 to turn into a pandemic from an epidemic.
A WAKE UP CALL!!
The world is not ready for another pandemic or even an epidemic. COVID-19, has just shown how unprepared our governments, healthcare bodies and population are not equipped to unexpected circumstances. Although, coronavirus has shown negative impacts in society, it has shown positive impacts on environment. Pollution across the globe has seen a dramatic dip, although temporary, the results are striking. This should further encourage the countries across the globe to consider sustainable living rather than abusing Mother Nature. And to avoid further emergence and reemergence of these infections, healthcare bodies need to be address the issue at its roots. There is a reason certain animals are considered as wild. If they are brought into an environment filled with pollution, their biological mechanism changes which leads to birth of new microorganisms. Collaborations between public health, healthcare, veterinary and climate health professionals will help in finding any new zoonoses and also research regarding the existing zoonoses to study the possibility of further mutation. These collaborations can also be led by example to promote teachings to public population regarding harmful effects of consumption of wildlife animals, wildlife trading, redirecting industrial waste into seas and rivers, deforestation and use of wildlife animals in fashion industry.
The above approaches have been implemented by certain organizations but there has not been any positive outcome. COVID-19, is a wake up call to all countries and it’s population in coming together to preserve the environment, by educating ourselves and our next generation on living with sustainability. Let us hope for a better world by living and knowing better.