People wearing protective face masks wait for passengers to arrive at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport after India cancelled all flights from the UK over fears of a new strain of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Mumbai, India,.(REUTERS)
People wearing protective face masks wait for passengers to arrive at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport after India cancelled all flights from the UK over fears of a new strain of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Mumbai, India,.(REUTERS)

We must realise global health requires a coordinated effort

To reap the benefits of globalisation, to ensure an equal world, global health must be central to international collaboration. It determines social and economic development for all. And peace is the logical result.
By Anjali Nayyar
UPDATED ON DEC 29, 2020 12:06 AM IST

The ongoing pandemic, with over 79 million people infected and 1.7 million lives lost, has become the most destructive infectious disease outbreak in recent human history with unprecedented human, social and economic costs. Countries are struggling to respond to new infections and virus mutations through a mix of containment measures- periodic lockdowns, domestic and international border-sealing and available, limited medical solutions.

International trade and domestic economies were the first to take a hit. By the end of the second quarter, international trade was almost one-fifth less compared to second quarter of 2019. As 2020 closes out and vaccines are getting emergency use approvals, the Covid-19 shock is expected to cause a seven to nine per cent fall in global trade.

Countries that were growing economically pre-pandemic, are now witnessing worrying trends. For instance, pre-Covid, unemployment in the United States (US) was at a half-century low but by the second quarter of 2020, its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) plunged by nearly 31.4% - a record held previously only by the Great Depression. In the United Kingdom (UK), unemployment hit a three-year high and over 800,000 people lost their jobs. Emerging and fledgling economies like India and South Africa are also experiencing historic contractions.

But the impact of Covid-19 isn’t limited to economics and trade. It has magnified fault-lines, exacerbated inequities and inequalities and resulted in shadow pandemics such as mental health crises, violence against women, and disruptions in critical health services, possibly reversing recent improvements. It has forced hundreds of thousands of skilled and unskilled workers out of jobs and is expected to push an estimated 88-115 million into extreme poverty. Countries, rich and poor, have been affected by an economic emergency. Several low- and middle-income countries, battling existing political instability and conflict, coupled with weak health systems infrastructure have borne the worst of this impact. The pandemic has underscored that the world needs to rethink policies and programmes to bring back some semblance of equality and stability in societies. It needs to view global health as a security issue.

For too long, the concept of security has assumed an anthropomorphised ‘other’ - an ‘us’ seeking existential security from another state or organisation. Here, state security is threatened in physical or cyber battle by potentially rational or irrational actors, who driven by distrust or ambition or power dynamics, launch threats to a state’s security. While these can be checked with negotiation, mediation and arbitration, or destruction, i.e. war; in case of disease, such an understanding is limited. Disease, and resulting hunger and poverty can cause destabilisation, political unrest, civil disorder, and international conflict– all of which threaten international peace and security. Covid-19 has also shattered the illusion of international collaboration. In the last two decades, these have emphasised good health and well-being, especially through the Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals. But in the wake of Covid-19, countries that could launch a coordinated effort to check the impact of the pandemic have resorted to inward-looking policies. Ending the pandemic must be a global goal and a critical determinant of foreign policy, trade, and economic co-operation.

Protectionism, isolationism, as seen through vaccine nationalism has reversed the efforts of international bodies and platforms to place health at the centre of the global development agenda. Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; and the World Health Organization are working with governments and vaccine manufacturers to expedite vaccine research and ensure that the vaccine, when available, is accessible to all. But to ensure success wealthier countries must join hands and lend their support so that all countries can roll-out the vaccine, almost in parallel.

As we see the light at the end of the tunnel, as vaccines get rolled out across the world, we need to collectively recognise that global health determines economic trajectories and requires a coordinated, concerted effort. To reap the benefits of globalisation, to ensure an equal world, global health must be central to international collaboration. It determines social and economic development for all. And peace is the logical result.

Anjali Nayyar is executive vice-president, Global Health Strategies This article is co-authored by Pratyush Pranav and Anindita Bose, senior associates at Global Health Strategies.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
The government must be applauded for this imaginative diplomacy, aided in no small measure by the structural advantage of being the world’s pharmacy (Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)
The government must be applauded for this imaginative diplomacy, aided in no small measure by the structural advantage of being the world’s pharmacy (Pratham Gokhale/HT Photo)

India’s vaccine diplomacy | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 06:37 PM IST
India started its vaccination drive against Covid-19 on January 16
Close
At the root of it is both the BJP and Trinamool’s belief that they have the first right to claim Bose. (Samir Jana / Hindustan Times)
At the root of it is both the BJP and Trinamool’s belief that they have the first right to claim Bose. (Samir Jana / Hindustan Times)

The political battle over Netaji | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
PUBLISHED ON JAN 24, 2021 06:37 PM IST
To be true to the present, both sides must be truthful about the past, instead of making one of India’s icons a subject of political wrangling
Close
On Thursday, the day when the index crossed 50,000, India’s price-earnings multiple (a measure of whether a stock is overvalued or undervalued) was 34.36. (REUTERS)
On Thursday, the day when the index crossed 50,000, India’s price-earnings multiple (a measure of whether a stock is overvalued or undervalued) was 34.36. (REUTERS)

Decoding the 50,000 mark

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2021 10:46 PM IST
The occasion of Sensex, the benchmark index of BSE crossing 50,000 (it has since fallen below that level), has been used by analysts to don their cheerleader costumes and predict that it could touch 100,000 in the next five years
Close
Farmers take part in a protest against the newly passed farm laws on the outskirts of Delhi, December 17, 2020 (REUTERS)
Farmers take part in a protest against the newly passed farm laws on the outskirts of Delhi, December 17, 2020 (REUTERS)

Farmers should shed rigidity

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2021 06:19 AM IST
The government retreated. Protesting groups should have reciprocated. In a democracy, farm groups exercised their right to protest — but they should not take over the rights of a sovereign Parliament and an elected government, and dictate terms from the streets.
Close
The room for dissent in the party is limited even as leaders can see clearly that its electoral prospects — in both state polls and 2024 elections — remain dim (HTPHOTO)
The room for dissent in the party is limited even as leaders can see clearly that its electoral prospects — in both state polls and 2024 elections — remain dim (HTPHOTO)

The Congress must get its act together

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2021 06:20 AM IST
The CWC is itself a part of the problem, for it is a body of nominated individuals, many with limited or non-existent mass base who have thrived on patronage politics.
Close
Along with domestic priorities, the Biden presidency will have to deal with the most important strategic challenge of the times— the belligerence of China (AFP)
Along with domestic priorities, the Biden presidency will have to deal with the most important strategic challenge of the times— the belligerence of China (AFP)

The 46th President of the US | HT Editorial

UPDATED ON JAN 20, 2021 07:30 PM IST
Joe Biden’s elevation as the 46th President of the United States (US) marks a moment of victory for all those who believe in liberal democracy, civilised politics within the rules of the game, responsible leadership, and the inclusion of various social groups, including minorities, in the power structure
Close
Delhi’s air quality slipped into the “severe” category on Tuesday, for the sixth time this month (Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)
Delhi’s air quality slipped into the “severe” category on Tuesday, for the sixth time this month (Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)

The persistence of the pollution threat | HT Editorial

PUBLISHED ON JAN 20, 2021 07:22 PM IST
As Parliament prepares to take up a full-fledged Bill for approval to back the newly formed Commission for Air Quality Management by law, it is time to re-evaluate the non-meteorological reasons that are responsible for bad air in the National Capital Region
Close
India's Shardul Thakur (C) bowls to Australia's batsman Cameron Green on day four of the fourth cricket Test match between Australia and India at The Gabba, Brisbane, January 18, 2021 (AFP)
India's Shardul Thakur (C) bowls to Australia's batsman Cameron Green on day four of the fourth cricket Test match between Australia and India at The Gabba, Brisbane, January 18, 2021 (AFP)

A new team comes of age

UPDATED ON JAN 20, 2021 06:10 AM IST
There may be no greater test of character in sport than a Test match run chase
Close
A medical worker inoculates a nurse with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine, Osmania General Hospital, Hyderabad, January 18, 2021. (AFP)
A medical worker inoculates a nurse with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine, Osmania General Hospital, Hyderabad, January 18, 2021. (AFP)

Autopsy of a pandemic: Hold China, WHO accountable

By
UPDATED ON JAN 20, 2021 06:11 AM IST
The findings of a new report are an affirmation of what has long been regarded — but not acknowledged — as damaging negligence by Beijing and WHO
Close
Farm unions have not responded to the government’s offer to amend the laws, or to the Supreme Court’s directive to cooperate with a committee meant to examine the issue in detail (PTI)
Farm unions have not responded to the government’s offer to amend the laws, or to the Supreme Court’s directive to cooperate with a committee meant to examine the issue in detail (PTI)

Don’t let challenges turn intractable | HT Editorial

UPDATED ON JAN 19, 2021 06:20 AM IST
Both the China ingression and the stance of the farm unions are disparate issues, born out of their own specific histories
Close
According to a news report, US President-elect Joe Biden has appointed at least 20 Indian-Americans, with 17 of them in White House positions — 13 of the 20 also happen to be women. (AFP)
According to a news report, US President-elect Joe Biden has appointed at least 20 Indian-Americans, with 17 of them in White House positions — 13 of the 20 also happen to be women. (AFP)

Under Biden, the rise of Indian-Americans

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON JAN 17, 2021 07:16 PM IST
India would do well to cultivate them, as it would cultivate any US official at high levels, but respect their identity beyond their Indian roots.
Close
A health worker carries a carton containing vaccines during the delivery of the first consignment of 1,000 vials of Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN, Jaipur, January 13, 2021 (Himanshu Vyas/ Hindustan Times)
A health worker carries a carton containing vaccines during the delivery of the first consignment of 1,000 vials of Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN, Jaipur, January 13, 2021 (Himanshu Vyas/ Hindustan Times)

And the vaccine is here

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON JAN 15, 2021 07:46 PM IST
When India begins its coronavirus vaccination drive on Saturday, it will start with some of the biggest numbers: 300,000 potential recipients, 3,006 centres, and over 16 million doses already at hand
Close
Prime Minister KP Oli’s unconstitutional move to dissolve Parliament (the new Nepali Constitution does not give the PM the right to do so) has led to a de facto split in the Nepal Communist Party (NCP). (Getty Images)
Prime Minister KP Oli’s unconstitutional move to dissolve Parliament (the new Nepali Constitution does not give the PM the right to do so) has led to a de facto split in the Nepal Communist Party (NCP). (Getty Images)

Delhi’s balancing act with Nepal | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON JAN 15, 2021 08:37 AM IST
Nepal’s foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali is in Delhi for a bilateral meeting
Close
The ruling puts the provisions of SMA on a par with personal laws which require no notice period (PTI)
The ruling puts the provisions of SMA on a par with personal laws which require no notice period (PTI)

Upholding the right to liberty and privacy | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON JAN 15, 2021 08:37 AM IST
The Allahabad High Court has upheld the fundamental right to liberty and privacy with its ruling that a 30-day notice is not mandatory for those seeking to get married under the Special Marriage Act (SMA), 1954
Close
WhatsApp, the most popular mobile communication tool in the world, is going to great lengths to explain that its new use policy does not jeopardise the privacy of its users by sending additional data to its parent company, Facebook. (REUTERS)
WhatsApp, the most popular mobile communication tool in the world, is going to great lengths to explain that its new use policy does not jeopardise the privacy of its users by sending additional data to its parent company, Facebook. (REUTERS)

To big tech, India must send a message

UPDATED ON JAN 13, 2021 10:35 PM IST
WhatsApp’s new policy is now a strong reminder of why India must expedite work on its own data protection law so that Indians have a right to say to big tech — “We don’t agree”.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP