Pandemics Are Inevitable – Let’s Start Preparing For The Next One Now
Infectious diseases have accompanied humans ever since we came to this planet. Even today we’re fighting a pandemic. Medicinal research and development may have reduced the number of deaths but nothing has stopped them from invading human bodies every few years. The earliest known plague, according to the World Economic Forum, is Antonine Plague. 5 million people died from it. Japanese Small Pox (death toll 1M), Black Death (death toll 200M), Spanish Flu (death toll 40-50M), HIV/Aids (death toll 25-35M), Ebola (11,000), etc have caused millions of deaths. And now we are witnessing the Coronavirus.
Let me tell you that my purpose here is not to make you feel depressed but what I intend to say is that, even after defeating Coronavirus, we need to establish a proper and effective mechanism to fight epidemics. If history teaches us anything, it is that outbreaks of such magnitudes are inevitable are possible.
Our government is working tirelessly to control the situation through lockdowns. People are also cooperating to some extent (not as much as they should be). But our orders should have been sealed earlier. The day Coronavirus started spreading in China, we should have been proactive; we should have immediately closed our air space for all international flights. Taiwan is getting international praise for its effective measures against Coronavirus – there were 127 categorical actions that the country took to fend off the disease and despite being very close to China, they didn’t let Coronavirus spread there. To fight any such pandemic again, our government needs to work on certain strategies.
A permanent fund should be established with a small amount of money from industries, business tycoons and welfare institutions. These funds can be used during pandemics for providing food to poor families.
We are already learning from the current situation and forming “Tiger Force” to control the situation is a good step but we need to do more. We need to train our doctors and nurses for possible future pandemics. China has sent its teams for helping us in controlling the spread of Coronavirus but joint conferences should be held every year to discuss strategies to fight virus attacks. Countries need to help each other and train medical staff as viruses are not limited to any one country.
Our universities and research institutions should work more vigilantly on innovations related to medicine and medical machinery. For example, designs of ventilators and masks are being worked upon now – but why so late? Why didn’t we work on them before when they were small in number in our hospitals and were being imported from other parts of the world?
Borders should have been sealed earlier. People who were going to Iran should have been stopped in January when the virus started spreading. Flights should have been canceled earlier because people coming from abroad were likely to affect their families with the virus here. There should be a small committee keeping an eye on the spread of pandemics anywhere in the world. This committee could comprise of medical students. It will benefit the students by adding to their knowledge and be of great help to the government as well.
Last but not the least, heavy fines should be imposed on hoarders. We need to improve our health infrastructure. The time to start preparing for the future is now.
The author writes about social issues such as gender inequality, domestic abuse and other societal ills. Besides being a keen observer and commentator on current affairs, she is a voracious reader of English prose and non-fiction.