On tipping points, new balance, collateral damage and unexpected gains – let's help the doctors
I really hope this is the last pandemic framed as a disease, for which we need ‘global health’. First, because the old models of “global health expertise” are no longer valid; secondly, because time is up for the medical experts (after trust in experts got an initial boost in most countries, virologists and other medical experts are slowly losing some of their newfound “rockstar”-appeal; in addition, now that things get messier, we are more and more crying for economists and psychologists to help out); and thirdly, because we knew all along (not only the misty Jane Goodall) that Covid-19 is a dark warning for the real forthcoming global threat – in other words, pandemics are “wake up calls”, deep down (and people like Richard Horton, chief editor of The Lancet, are of similar mind).
So, at the junction of the honeymoon and disillusionment phase of this crisis, it is time to get ahead of the game and think about restoration. Time for bold ideas – real ideas, not relabelling old wine in new bottles, like adding more layers and institutions to the current architectural conundrum of global health actors, or simply continuing to take advantage of the chaos (by some of the usual suspects).
Questions about the collateral damage for the ‘have nots’, but also about the unexpected gains for the ‘haves’, bring home the message that we need global expertise to find answers to the questions that really matter.
These questions point first and foremost to the radically different answers needed for the ‘haves’ versus the ‘have nots’. We, the ‘haves’ who read this stuff, can ponder the question whether we ‘live to be healthy’ or instead ‘need health to live our lives’. The’ have nots’ depend for their very survival on decisions of others. I like the advice of Slavoj Žižek: let’s now be both modest and bold! Let’s try not to behave as the ‘intellectuals yet idiots’, who have no ‘skin in the game’. Let’s get on with it, and don’t forget to sometimes listen to music that reminds us to try not to get sick, and try to play nice.