Wednesday, September 23, 2020
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COVID-19 Pandemic: Changing the World’s Priorities

By Meyanga Abu

COVID-19 pandemic, according to Igoe M. is the greatest test since the formation of United Nations after the World War II.

So far the total numbers of reported cases is now well over one million and with nearly seven hundred deaths from the pandemic at the time this article was written.

The pandemic has continued to send shock waves across the world shuttering entire world economies and plunging the global health, development and humanitarian organizations into a prolonged worldwide crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic seems set to displace and redefine other world priorities judging from its devastating effects on human population.

It is very educating and revealing to take our mind back to the incidence of Spanish virus pandemic in 1918 that claimed many lives leaving the world devastated. I don’t know why it was called Spanish virus, why not France virus, because the virus was developed at Etaples in an enormous military camp in northern France.

The Spanish virus was the most deadly viral pandemic man had ever encountered in the history of human existence. It was believed to have caused more deaths than any other illnesses in human history. We cannot however make any conclusion yet because the rate at which the COVID-19 is spreading is capable of beating the Spanish virus records to set a new global record with the current global population of 8.9 billion people. As mentioned earlier the Spanish virus that caused the pandemic was developed at Etaples, a military camp in northern France and spread by travelers mostly by ships at that time and contacts with infected people. It is on record that the Spanish virus pandemic killed 50 million people out of the 1.8 billion world population at that time. Out of the over 50 million global deaths, 29% were from sub-Sahara Africa. Within 2-3 hours of the crisis the infected persons were dead giving no room for management arrangement. The virus attacked and chewed away the brain and the spinal cord of infected persons, and a lot of people suffered acute respiratory distress syndrome. It was on record that 71% of the people affected died. Spanish viral infection come to Nigeria specifically Lagos from Ghana claiming the lives of 500,000 Nigerians out of the then 18 million Nigeria’s population.

Many people are now of the view that the COVID-19 could be the modified version or return of Spanish virus with specific modification to prevent chewing of the brain and the spinal cord by the virus but allow the effects on the respiratory system to remain. Whatever the case, all hands must be on deck to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

The reported cases of COVID-19 pandemic globally are today well over 1.4 million and over 82 thousand deaths at the time of this article.

A lot of world’s development and socio-economic priorities are gradually been changed to contain the pandemic. One of the noticeable redefinition of the world’s priorities is the United Nation’s framework convention on climate change for interventional climate talks that was scheduled for November 2020 in Glasgow Scotland but now postponed until 2021.

Another global programme billed to be suspended is the global polio eradication initiative which has been the brain behind polio eradication activities worldwide. The polio vaccination campaigns have been recommended for suspension to help stop or prevent the spread of the coronavirus infection. The suspension of polio eradication campaigns is a potentially tragic necessity that could allow polio to return to the countries that are currently free of the polio disease. As it is today the whole world is caught between two terrible situations – polio and COVID-19. Many humanitarian organizations that have been providing critical services, out of concerns they might spread the coronaviirus among the communities where they work, adding to the local health burden are forced to withdraw their staff. It is no doubt that the COVID-19 outbreak has outstripped the supply of critical medical equipment in most countries including the wealthy nations. As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads in low and middle income countries, concerns are mounting that it could force a global competition for personal protective equipment, ventilators and many essential items.

Many multinational NGOs are redirecting their energy and activities towards arresting the spread of COVID-19 as well as shifting the manner of their funding architecture. The implication is that low and middle income countries might witness less funding.

Coming back home, Nigeria, the present administration is facing unprecedented challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. The current price of crude oil on which the country based her 2020 budget has fallen to the lowest level ever expected in contemporary Nigeria.

The last I have records of crude oil price was when it was 22 dollars per barrel. This year’s budget is based on a benchmark of 57 dollars per barrel. This administration is faced with challenges that no government in the history of Nigeria had ever confronted so we all need to put politics aside and come together as one people, one goal and purpose to help the government fight to stop the spread of COVID-19. The government needs to redesign its economic strategies and priorities changing its thinking of doing things to reflect the realities on the ground. The crashing of the crude oil price from the budget benchmark of 57 dollars per barrel amidst other worsening implications of COVID-19 pandemic portends impending recession on a global scale.

Nigeria as a matter of facts needs to develop new economic strategies that will keep the economy going while at the same time keep tap on the curtailment, prevention and the spread of COVID-19 pandemic. We appeal to all Nigerians to strictly obey the sit at home order, practice social distance while praying for God’s intervention.

Menyanga Abu, FIMC, CMC.Health Systems and Development Consultant. 08094019069

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