[Ip-health] Arancha González Laya in the Washington Post: As we fight the pandemic, it’s clear the world wasn’t ready. Here’s how to fix that.

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Thu Mar 26 04:26:12 PDT 2020


Global Opinions <https://www.washingtonpost.com/global-opinions/>
As we fight the pandemic, it’s clear the world wasn’t ready. Here’s how to
fix that.

By Arancha González Laya
March 25, 2020 at 12:30 p.m. GMT+1

*Arancha* *González Laya is Spain’s minister of foreign affairs.*

The coronavirus
demands international cooperation to levels not seen since the time of
World War II. This time we are fighting against an invisible enemy.
Governments all over the world are focused on winning this battle. In
Spain, our prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has declared a state of
emergency, imposing a nationwide lockdown
announcing unprecedented measures to safeguard our economy. The financial
support package amounts to close to
percent of our GDP. Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.
Surely, these determined actions will help us turn a corner.

But overcoming this crisis and preventing the next one will require a great
deal more than national responses.

The international community must be ready to share knowledge and coordinate
across borders. Finding a solution will be more expedient if our research
ecosystems are better connected. Countries hardest hit will need the help
of others. The more support they get, the less the damage will spread.
Indeed, containment strategies will work only if they are coordinated
regionally and globally. And when a vaccine is developed, it will be
effective only if it’s deployed to everyone who needs it.

Simply put, until we are all beyond danger, no one will be safe.

As we fight the virus in Spain, we understand that our economic, social and
health security are all dependent on increased collaboration with our
European neighbors. The European Union is our home and our destiny. But
Europe alone cannot tackle all global challenges.

We would like to put forward four concrete proposals:

First, the government of Spain will establish a domestic commission to
assess the state of our health-care system and to take measures to
strengthen it. We would like to propose a similar exercise at the
international level, led by a reinforced World Health Organization, with a
focus on better-coordinated protocols for preparedness, emergency response,
health-data sharing and the international mobilization of human and
technical resources. If there is one lesson to draw from the crisis, it is
that health is a global public good, and it should be treated as such.

Second, we need to deepen scientific collaboration, both in terms of
effective treatments and the development of a vaccine. Spain has just
conveyed a committee of scientific advisers and launched a fund to finance
investigation about the virus. We propose a fast-tracked agreement by all
countries that would effectively put their national research on the novel
coronavirus and other pathogens at the service of international teams and
not-for-profit initiatives.

Third, we need unprecedented global coordination to jump-start the engines
of our economies, so the shock is as short-lived as possible and no one is
left behind. Within the E.U., this will require a greater degree of
financial solidarity and new fiscal tools. At the global level, we need a
resounding “whatever it takes” message from the Group of 20 and concerted
action from central banks to beat uncertainty and volatility. Settling
trade differences between the United States, China and the E.U. will also
be of great help. And devising a package of solutions for the poorest
countries will be of the essence. Once the crisis is over, many sectors of
our economies may need deep support and reform. This will be an opportunity
to transition toward a more equitable and sustainable economy. We should
seize it.

Finally, it is time to be bold and envision new ways forward for our
international institutions. We propose launching a thorough review at the
next U.N. summit in September. The goal should be to find ways to reinforce
the institutions that work, replace those that do not, create those that
are missing and, overall, promote simplicity, effectiveness, coherence and
cohesion. We need a system that responds to the needs of the 21st century.

We often talk about global governance, but there is, in fact, less of it
than most people think. Globalization has deepened our economic links, but
our tools to govern them have not. We live in a world of dazzling new
technologies, yet our global governance mechanisms are blatantly outdated.
We have been unable to manage some of the greatest challenges of our time,
such as climate change or the rise of inequality, in an effective manner.

Our primary responsibility right now is to the health and well-being of our
citizens. This is what the Spanish government is focused on. However, if we
are to prevent new crises like this one, work should start right now to
build a better-governed world.

Our answer to this crisis will determine the fate of humanity for
generations to come. Let’s get it right.

Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International
41 22 791 6727
thiru at keionline.org

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