Covid-19 pandemic hit the world at a much unexpected time. It started in China and people in Africa, precisely Kenya thought they were untouchable given their great content of melanin.
If only they knew, that it was just a matter of time, they would have braced for its impact. Covid-19 hit and impacted major health sectors of the world in so many ways.
First, it disrupted health services in many countries. This could be due to the lack of enough staff and equipment needed to handle the pandemic. Most of the staff in about 94% of the countries had to be shifted from their work places and get trained for covid-19 handling while others died or had to go on quarantine due to infection by covid-19.
This led to slow down or stoppage of other essential health services since the focus turned to covid-19 management.
Also, prior to the onset of the pandemic, more than 820 million people all over the world were classified as food insecure. Months into the pandemic, the food security of more people got compromised, by March 2021, 135 million people were already identified as chronically food insecure.
This is due to the shifts in job markets and life cost generally. As if this is not enough, predictions say that the rate of food insecurity will double by the end of this year.
Consequently on the positive side, Covid-19 has shown the value of nationalism and local production. Many countries which could be easily self-sufficient still waited on foreign aid for a long time.
But since the pandemic, the lack of equipment and supplies went on a shortage. This prompted most of the dependent countries learn how to source for their own supplies of equipment locally. There has been massive production and therefore economic up rise in such countries, including Kenya.
There has also been an acceleration in the uptake of technology. Due to the issues on social distancing, patients have to do virtual consultations, which was earlier not received well pre-pandemic.
Polly Dunford, the President and CEO of Intrahealth was quoted saying, ‘Covid-19 could be what makes us finally deliver on the promises of remote learning and support to our netizens even long after this pandemic is gone’.
As much as covid-19 has impacted on our lives directly and indirectly, it has also exposed flaws in our health systems. One of the most obvious flaw is corruption.
This has manifested in various ways like the concerns of the cartels inside KEMSA, who decided to become millionaires with public resources and aids. This generally weakened the health institution and diverted the attention to its mitigation instead of focusing on combating covid-19.
Another flaw exposed is the lack of enough resources in our health care facilities. There were very few specialist equipment at the onset of this pandemic.
Out of 47 counties, only 22 of them had at least 1 intensive care unit. This shows the lack of coordination of the health care system at the local level and national level. The idea here is that with effective communication and appropriate prioritization of funds, the issue of lack of specialist equipment would be nowhere close.
‘’The best defense against any outbreak is a strong health system’’, stressed WHO director General Adhanom Tedros. ‘’Covid-19 is revealing how fragile many of the world’s health system are forcing countries to make difficult choices on how best to meet the needs of their people’’.
Consequently the WHO, laid down some guidelines to help humanity avoid making the same mistake again. These include;
Expanding real time food security monitoring systems to provide timely, improved and geospatially indicative data to measure pandemic unfolding effects and understand better who is suffering from hunger and malnutrition and where they are. This could help big time with intervening to avoid chronic consequences of malnutrition and food insecurity during a pandemic.
The local governments should also identify essential services like routine vaccination, reproductive health services including care during pregnancy and child birth and so on, and prioritize them to avoid interference like it happened with the onset of covid-19 in many countries.
The national government also has a capacity in combating this virus and also avoid the same mistakes of corruption by ensuring reliable rules and regulations are put into place.
Finally, countries should learn to be self-sufficient and stop depending on imports or aids. It has been evident that even developing countries like Kenya have the capacity to self-produce from masks to PPE’s and be able to supply to the health care facilities and individuals all over the country.
As much as covid-19 has affected everything and everyone, it has also been a great opportunity to do self-assessment as individual countries and step up the capacities to help ourselves.
There has been isolationism even from some countries from the big north and the excuse is that they are dealing with the pandemic and hence cannot provide foreign aid like they did before. This has led to self-dependence which is a good habit to keep up even long after the pandemic.