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Lessons for the World from COVID-19

COVID-19 disrupted our world, but it presents us many lessons. Will the world be better prepared when next a pandemic rocks it?

Since being declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), COVID-19 has continued to spread across borders, affecting several countries in 6 continents of the world. The disease has wrecked so much havoc by distorting the lives of people and societies. Some analysts say it is the worst pandemic of our lifetime. It is an unquestionable fact that the disease has crippled many world systems – leaving millions of people infected and several thousand dead. Despite all that has happened, it appears that more lies ahead.

Although the disease predominantly continues to have negative impacts, it presents several lessons for consideration and action. I am sure you may be wondering what kind of lessons are there to learn from such a deadly pandemic.

Whether there will be another pandemic of this sort again in our lifetime is a great uncertainty, but the big question we must all ask is “will the world be better prepared when next a pandemic rocks it?” Definitely, Yes! – but that will be a function of how ready we are to adopt the lessons from the current pandemic.

Digital transformation is inevitable.

More than anticipated, it appears that the pandemic is helping to accelerate digital transformation. Governments, businesses, and people who opposed digitalization and claimed that technology could not replace traditional tools and systems are beginning to see the potentials of digital transformation. While those who already moved to digital are having a smooth running of their activities, others who did not prepare find it difficult to adapt amid the crisis.

More people are now experiencing a switch to digital, indicating that many things can be done from home and conveniently. Consequently, most workers do their jobs remotely and have constant discussions using online meeting tools, entertainment fans are accepting the concept of e-concerts and live performances on digital tools, experts are acknowledging the importance of telehealth and e-trading has increased significantly. In many places across the world, religious activities have gone digital and religious followers ‘e-congregate’ from home through their phones and computers. Students in institutions of learning that had gone digital before the advent of the pandemic are having no issues continuing their learning activities, but the case is different for institutions that have no digital tools in place, leaving their students technically ‘out of school’.

Furthermore, events such as conferences, trainings, and meetings that would ordinarily cost a fortune are now digitalized via web-conferencing – even in government institutions. In Nigeria, the governors’ forum now holds weekly meetings virtually. This connotes that digital is the future of things, and while this may not be the end of traditional systems just yet, it is a warning sign that digital transformation is inevitable. The incidental digitalization happening across the globe is helping institutions avoid huge losses; therefore, post-covid19, governments, businesses, and people across all strata must fully initiate processes of digitalization – to enable convenience and flexibility.

Hygiene is the best prevention.

Coronavirus disease has seen public health experts reiterate the importance of cleanliness and how it helps to prevent the spread of diseases. As scientists strive to discover a vaccine or cure for COVID-19, it has become clear that hygiene is one of the most important prevention tips against it. More than before, people in the remotest places and less industrialized nations are learning how to maintain proper hygiene. Consequently, useful tips like regular washing of hands and the use of disinfectants have gained much popularity. Even after the pandemic subsides, we must continue to emphasize the need for hygiene globally, to maintain health, and prevent further health crisis.

The world needs unity.

The rapid transmission of the virus from Wuhan to all other parts of the world has demonstrated that indeed, the world is a global village. Beyond ideas of indigenous policies and individualized solutions to problems, COVID-19 teaches that global unity and solidarity are important tools for global survival. Experts suggest that global leaders must unite to fight the pandemic. People all over the world are optimistic that a vaccine comes soon – not minding who develops it or where it is developed. Countries are also helping one another in possible ways to defeat the virus together, just as Cuba is sending medical teams to different countries of the world in need of help. The pandemic reminds us that no nation of the world can survive alone and that we are all together. As unity helps us fight the pandemic, it is accordingly key in the fight against most global problems.

We should pursue global peace.

Although, it is not yet clear if COVID-19 has significantly reduced conflicts between countries that were at war with each other, the obvious reality is that all of us are realizing that there is a common enemy to fight and we must put resources together to fight it. The world spends so much on war and conflict – SIPRI estimates $1.8Trillion as military expenditure in 2018  – and such huge spending comes with great opportunity cost

Indeed, analysts have reported that some countries spend more on military activities than on health. The implication is that the world would have been better prepared for COVID19 if countries channeled resources on military expenditure into health. Moreover, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) posits a possible worse outcome of the pandemic for conflict zones

We need stronger health institutions.

It took the virus to expose defects in several health institutions around the world. Developed nations that we thought had strong public health systems have fallen short of expectation, and it is not any different for developing nations. Countries that got confirmed cases of the virus much later and had prior information that could have helped them prepare better also failed. The pandemic makes it obvious that the world was never ready for such a health emergency, even after the H1N1 pandemic. African countries that have had recent experiences in epidemics like Ebola and Lassa viruses are not proving to have benefitted from the experiences, in mounting better health structures. Therefore, when we are successful in combating COVID-19, world leaders must initiate reforms to build stronger health systems that can stand in case of another similar pandemic. There is a need for reassessment of the funding of health structures and reward systems for health workers, considering the immense potential hazards of their roles. 

Businesses need environmental uncertainty policies.

With almost one-third of the world on lockdown, there are irrepressible economic repercussions evident in all aspects of the trade. All over the world, companies that are unprepared for the current trade crisis of COVID-19 are experiencing terrible outcomes, and businesses may fail, if there is no inflow of new money. The economic effects of the pandemic are not perceptible in only small businesses, in fact, the global economy is falling and stock markets have crashed. The rapid spread of the virus has caused a global economic crisis typified by trade failure. COVID-19 poses an environmental uncertainty preparedness test for companies, and those who pass the test will find it easier to survive at this time. The reality of a constantly changing environment with factors out of human control is a necessary consideration for business. In the world after the pandemic, business owners and administrators should formulate workable environmental uncertainty policies to prepare them for adaptation during unpredicted crises. 

We can make our environments safer.

When we go digital, highways become freer. Major cities are experiencing lesser gridlocks with a concomitant reduction in the harmful effects of traffic congestion, including environmental pollution through smoke and noise – and this is not unconnected to how people are having most of their daily activities done from home. Environmental science researchers say some places are experiencing their best air quality in decades. Beyond this period, leaders across the globe should explore the benefits of digitalization as a means of promoting safer environments for people. 

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