American linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky questioned, “What world will come out of Covid-19 and what is the world we hope to want to live in?” Indeed, a very pertinent question for the contemporary times ridden with uncertainty, fear and devastation. It has been predicted that this dark phase we have entered may take 20-30 years before we see any real progress.
It is indeed a watershed event in this globalised and interconnected world where the spread of the pandemic has been as fast as people, goods and ideas moving across borders. Despite emerging as a health crisis, it in no time became a human, economic and social crisis attacking societies to their very core. It has presented an enormous challenge to public health, food systems, working patterns, trade restrictions, border closures and mass confinement. Some have termed this time as ‘covidisation’, which has completely changed our lifestyles and pushed generations into the new normal.
We have all been either directly or indirectly impacted by the physical, mental, financial and social implications of the pandemic. By and large, what has been noted is that it has had a greater impact on the vulnerable sections of population who are already dealing with existing humanitarian emergencies. These include the poor, those working in the informal sector, older and disabled populations, youth and indigenous people. The homeless are unable to safely shelter themselves and are highly exposed to the virus. Those without access to clean running water or sanitation and refugees or displaced persons suffer disproportionately from the pandemic and its aftermath.
If economies do not start to recover, permanent scars such as malnutrition, susceptibility to disease, and missed schooling could set back development for several years. The challenges thus for those with pre-existing inequalities have exacerbated with no social protection and lack of data on their suffering.
However, crises often create opportunities and we really need to think of ways to start anew to address the injustices of our societal systems and restructure it in ways where adversities can be averted in the future. The battle against the pandemic must be fought at various levels. Having said that, the current crisis has the potential to become a turning point in modern human history. This means that from now onwards, the post-pandemic world will be new and different with altered patterns of globalisation.
Amid the immense misery, the pandemic needs to be seen in a distinct light and one should not perceive that all is doom and gloom. The unfortunate reality is that despite the vaccine now being available, the disease is here to stay. So, one should responsibly consider how to now exist and sustain successfully in this altered world. And the responsibility to combat Covid-19 should not just be on the government alone but should be across all sectors such as the civil society, media and other private and public institutions that should all work together to lessen the suffering and anguish of the people around the globe. The pandemic demands serious attention to be extended by the policymakers to designing holistic policy framework and guidelines to combat the new social realities — some of which may be short-term.
Covid-19 has really provided us an opportunity to come together and display human solidarity like never before to prevent the potential loss of the developments already gained. We need to rethink and look at the concept of development within the framework of a neo-covidised dimension to gauge how future strategies should be devised to promote sustainable living and livelihoods.
This article was originally published at: https://tribune.com.pk/story/2284481/neo-covidisation
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.