October 26, 2021

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In a pandemic, an opportunity to build a more equitable, inclusive and sustainable society

Covid-19 is apparently shrinking in India and possibly around the world. In February-March 2020, India found itself in the grip of the deadly virus. Neither the central government nor the states were prepared for the challenge. Caught off guard, public health facilities were overwhelmed.

It was in this scenario that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) came to the rescue, providing personal protective equipment kits and N95 masks and even oxygen by importing equipment such as oxygen concentrators.

In Chandigarh, Rotary and other NGOs helped PGI and government hospitals. In fact, in the second wave they even started mini Covid Centers to relieve crowded hospitals.

At the national and local levels, Rotary has developed the Covid Task Force led by senior leader and past director of Rotary International Ashok Mahajan to assist in the promotion and distribution of vaccines, with mobile vans. In the second phase he focused on helping families in economic difficulty.

This pandemic has changed our world forever. Within 18 months, not shaking hands with friends, unthinkable before, has become the new normal. But it is much more than handshakes that are changing A permanent line will divide our lives and our history, the period before and after Covid.

Work from home will become a standard feature. The protocol of the office, the design of the office, the buildings, even the urban planning will change. The way of traveling will change with the new protocol in public transport. Our vision of health and well-being will change. Whether it’s the way we deal with the environment, information or the leadership provided by governments, everything will change. The world after Covid will be a different world. It’s up to us to make it better.

So what are the great opportunities for social service organizations when we understand and accept the new norm. Here are some that I have identified:

HEALTH AND WELLNESS

The Covid pandemic has highlighted the serious inadequacies of public health around the world, especially in developing countries. Building public health infrastructure in Asian, African and South American nations will be a huge opportunity for NGOs, working with governments, medical experts and companies.
A BMC healthcare worker collects swab samples for the Covid-19 test. (Express photo by Ganesh Shirsekar)
It is clear that pandemics such as Covid-19 are neither the first nor the last. More preparedness and quick reaction are key. We need early warning infrastructure, more primary health care and more prevention education through better hygiene and social practices.

Support for basic health education as an important part of the school curriculum should be encouraged. There is a great opportunity to help in efforts to build more nursing colleges, not just for Covid, but for extended care to the aging global population.

International NGOs must also support the availability of essential medicines and vaccinations for the poor around the world. It is well known that the rapid availability of Covid vaccines, which cost as little as $ 4-8, can prevent billions of dollars of economic loss and ruin in the world where the poor are the most injured.

ENVIRONMENT

While the origin of the Covid virus continues to be debated, one thing is clear: it came from wild animals. As humans increasingly invade wild habitats for food and comfort, we run the risk of further such disasters.
People take part in a campaign by the Israeli Nature and Parks Authority that invites Israelis to join guided tours and find solace in hugging trees amid a spike in coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the Park Apollonia National Park, near Herzliya, Israel, July 7. 2020. Photo taken July 7, 2020. REUTERS / Ronen Zvulun
We must respect nature and wild habitats and move towards more environmentally friendly consumption habits. In our hunger for energy, we are irreparably destroying our land, air and oceans. Organizations such as Rotary International should focus on environmental services.

NEAREST FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES

Another realization in recent times has been the rapidity with which the feeling of isolation has grown. Social media, the growth of international trade and globalization have meant that (a) we are more connected to our phones than our families sitting around the table and (b) almost everything we buy, including water, paper and groceries , is produced by factories thousands of miles away, while local producers close their businesses.

The past 18 months have taught us the irreplaceable value of family, community, pursuit of inner happiness, local sightseeing instead of traveling to distant lands every vacation. I do not intend to shy away from international trade or tourism, but local, national and international must blend in happy balance.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said in the first months of the pandemic:

“Stay safe from coronavirus infection

Be smart to inform yourself about this

Be kind and support each other “

We hope to see the end of this pandemic and the beginning of a “not so normal” life in which we finally decide that it is time to build a more equitable, inclusive and sustainable society.

(The author is the former president of Rotary International)

[ https://www.dainikviral.com/blog/in-pandemic-a-chance-to-build-fairer-inclusive-sustainable-society/ https://d26toa8f6ahusa.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/30214746/a-quiet-place-part-2-bigs-16.pdf
https://d26toa8f6ahusa.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/30214803/a-quiet-place-part-2-online-bigs-4.pdf
]