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To win Covid-19 pandemic war, break all boundaries

By Stephen Ndegwa
Thursday, August 20th, 2020
An elderly man undergoes a COVID-19 nasal swab test. Photo/Courtesy
In summary

The fact that the coronavirus pandemic poses a serious threat to human health, safety and well-being as well as the socio-economic development of countries and the world at large cannot be gainsaid. 

The Covid-19 constitutes a global challenge that calls for global response based on unity, solidarity, mutual support and multilateral cooperation.

Therefore, the first priority for all countries is to contain the spread of the virus, save lives and safeguard global public health.

This has led to frontline healthcare workers, medical professionals, scientists and researchers as well as other essential workers around the world, many working under difficult and challenging conditions, to deal with the pandemic.

In a video conference held a couple of months ago under the theme, “Belt and Road International Cooperation: Combating COVID-19 with Solidarity”, China led BRI partners in putting heads together in fighting the unrelenting pandemic.

Previously known as One Belt One Road, BRI is a global infrastructure development strategy adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in nearly 70 countries and international organizations.

BRI aims at building high-quality, reliable, resilient and sustainable infrastructure, ensuring its viability, affordability, accessibility, inclusiveness and broad benefit over its entire life-cycle.

This will contribute to sustainable development of partner countries and the industrialisation of developing countries.

One of the major outcomes of the conference is the denouncing of all forms of discrimination, stigmatisation, racism and xenophobia in response to the pandemic.

Indeed, fighting the pandemic demands sharing of timely and necessary information, experiences and best practices for diagnosis and treatment of the Covid-19. 

The importance of strengthening cooperation in human resource development, education, vocational and professional training to build up the capacity of people to adapt better to the challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic was also emphasised.

It also entails strengthening and upgrading the capacity of public health systems, promoting joint scientific research and international dialogue among health professionals, and providing assistance to countries in need.

In the spirit of BRI, this calls for bilateral, regional and international mechanisms to jointly counter the coronavirus. 

To be successful, this needs a comprehensive and multi-modal infrastructure connectivity and sustainable transport system.

In light of the global economic and social disruption caused by Covid-19, it is important for countries to enhance cooperation in areas such as digital economy, health care industry and food security. 

Further, countries need to explore new sources of growth by promoting e-commerce, smart cities and other applications of digital technology, as well as the use of artificial intelligence and big data technology, helping narrow the digital divide while at the same time drawing on international best practice.

In order to mitigate the adverse effects of Covid-19 on industries and economies, there is need to stabilise the regional and the global industrial chains and supply chains, ensuring the continued flow of goods, services and relevant personnel.

The conference called for dialogues and exchanges in areas of major development strategies, plans and policies, including through the coordination between the BRI and other national, regional and international development strategies, programmes or initiatives.

After all is said and done, it is universally agreed that the world must support the leading role of the World Health Organisation in the global campaign against Covid-19.

This includes concerted and collaborative efforts by all parties, which will put the international community in good stead to manage the impact of the global pandemic. — The writer is s communication expert and public policy analyst—[email protected]