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COVID-19 is a human tragedy. But it has also created a generational opportunity; an opportunity to build back a more equal and sustainable world. The response to the pandemic and to the widespread discontent that preceded it must be based on a New Social Contract and a New Global Deal that create equal opportunities for all and respect the rights and freedoms of all.
Nelson Mandela Lecture:
“Tackling the Inequality Pandemic: A New Social Contract for a New Era”
The International Day of Epidemic Preparedness was first commemorated on Dec. 27, 2020. The United Nations General Assembly called on all its member states to establish this day to advocate the importance of global partnership against epidemics. The need for a dedicated day was felt after the coronavirus pandemic spread across the globe, causing unforeseen devastation in its wake. In some ways, the pandemic was an equalizer insofar as it affected people without distinction of race, class, or gender. In other ways, the pandemic exacerbated the chasm between the haves and have-nots as some jobs moved online, others were discontinued; healthcare and medication were available to some, while others had to perish; essential workers were praised and appreciated, but their work remained unchanged.
The International Day of Epidemic Preparedness highlights the need for coordinated planning to respond to pandemics effectively. By their very nature, pandemics do not recognize borders. It is only when states work together that they will be able to address the impact on health systems and socio-economic conditions. The world needs better coordination to share resources, equitably distribute vaccines, and prepare health systems and policies to deal with the onslaught of a pandemic. This includes recognizing the primary role that Governments play and the indispensable contribution of relevant stakeholders in tackling global health challenges, especially women, who make up the majority of the world’s health workers.
We should know the COVID-19 pandemic is more than a health crisis; it is an economic crisis, a humanitarian crisis, a security crisis, and a human rights crisis. This crisis has highlighted severe fragilities and inequalities within and among nations. Coming out of this crisis will require a whole-of-society, whole-of-government, and whole-of-the-world approach driven by compassion and solidarity. To deal with this urgent need, the UN Secretary-General has launched the UN Comprehensive Response to COVID-19 to save lives, protect societies, recover better.
- General Assembly resolution proclaiming the Day
- UN Comprehensive Response to COVID-19
- Policy Briefs on COVID-19 impact
More information is available at:
Angbeen Atif Mirza,
Assistant Professor of Practice at the Shaikh Ahmad Hassan School of Law (Lahore, Pakistan) And Roya Institute representative in Pakistan