Nations vs Salvation

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As much of the Western world battles Coronavirus (with the US and much of Europe experiencing their peak of infections currently), much of the conversation has surrounded how thoroughly unprepared we were. The UK government, for instance, has come under huge fire for the gross failure in providing enough PPE (Personal Protective equipment) for frontline staff. Indeed, just last week, a minute’s silence was held to commemorate more than 100 NHS workers who have died whilst treating sick patients, something the public narrative is attributing to lack of protection. 

It’s of course a tragedy that so many who otherwise may not have become infected have done so due to lack of provisions, but in this haze of grief and anger, a more sinister thought comes to light. In a world of wealth inequality, we in the west are the lucky ones. Reports from countries in the developing world are coming to light of rising Covid-19 cases, and it’s there where PPE is in even shorter supply, and safety for healthcare workers is practically non-existent. So what is to be done if, like much of the world, countries in more deprived areas like Sub-Saharan Africa become new epicentres of the Coronavirus? 

The obvious answer is to band together and provide aid when the time comes. But as has already been said, we’re hardly handling it well ourselves. If anything, this crisis is teaching us that despite the belief that we are lucky enough to live in a more prosperous country than most, we’re not invincible. Balancing the need between providing domestic support and being a leader on the world stage is an issue that Britain has been grappling with for centuries, yet unlike then, it’s arguably no longer coming from a point of strength and dominance. How does Britain and the west reconcile the limited resources for themselves while also acknowledging that equally big outbreaks in developing nations could cause one of the greatest humanitarian disasters in history? 

So, as the UK passes the peak of deaths and starts to consider what country and world we will live in when it’s all over, it’s time to turn our attention to the international community, who could still see the number of cases rise. Interestingly, despite warnings for the last couple of months, cases in some of the poorest countries remain low, but that could just as easily be due to lack of extensive testing. Who knows how extensive the spread already is, or could become, in countries like Nigeria, or war-ravaged South Sudan. The New York Times gave the jaw dropping statistic that the latter had more vice presidents (five) than ventilators (four). With all that’s been said about the limited ventilators in the UK per 100 people compared with the likes of Germany, four ventilators just highlights the astounding unpreparedness that confronts developing nations. 

Equally big outbreaks in developing nations could cause one of the greatest humanitarian disasters in history

Thus, it’s essential that we reconcile the need to protect out own citizens whilst acknowledging the gross discrepancy in abilities between developed and developing nations. In the next few weeks, the UK public could be advised to wear face masks in public as lockdown measures begin to be eased, but we should not lose sight of the fact that mass transportation of PPE must be directed to those who are possibly only just beginning to see a rise in deaths. As a small part of a wider global community, we must be able to put aside national distinctions, and acknowledge where we can make do with less, in order to alleviate the intense strain on parts of the world with an unimaginable lack of resources. 

Image: Rob Danton via Creative Commons

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