Worldwide responses to Covid-19
Alina McGregor examines the differences in the global response to Covid-19.
Not once in living memory has there been a worldwide lockdown such as that prompted by Covid-19, and one which is expected to cost governments over $1 trillion in economic damage. At no point in history has a virus wrought such global damage so fast. This is mainly because of global markets and transport.
Between Europe and America, there is a lot of variation in how governments are dealing with the crisis. Some EU countries are being hit harder than others due to choices made early on by the respective governments, and in rural America people are rioting and demanding that they should go back to work and continue on with their lives as normal. Conspiracies are circulating as to where the virus originated, if it was started with intent, and who should be held responsible.
Despite this horror in the global north, third world countries are at a serious disadvantage. According to data available from the World Bank: the UK has 2.8 practising doctors per 1000 people, Germany has 4.2, Sweden has 5.2 and Italy has 4.1. Compared to this, Zambia and Rwanda have one doctor per 10,000 people which amounts to 0.1 per 1000, while Kenya has 0.2. In Mali there are only three ventilators per million people as these are expensive machines. This is not to mention the fact that everyday safety privileges in the UK are not available in these countries. We have running water and soap so that we can wash our hands for twenty seconds and, despite the chaos, we have toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
While western countries are trying to get their population to actually wash their hands for twenty seconds, others are just trying to get clean water and soap to theirs.
This all highlights the fundamental problem these countries are facing: anybody in a country – or indeed a refugee camp – with this level of healthcare, drought of doctors, and close quarters conditions where social distancing is impossible, might struggle to contain the virus.
It goes without saying that every one of these lives matters as much as the next, but while western countries are trying to get their populations to actually wash their hands for twenty seconds, other countries are just trying to get clean water and soap to theirs. This is why the work of Oxfam and Doctors Without Borders is so important; a global public health plan and emergency response is vital to reaching the best-case scenario, which is to be mostly free of this pandemic by next year.