COVID-19: Caring for the Commons

The crisis of the coronavirus was dangerous and it will have a serious aftermath.  But it also has a silver lining, at least for those who are willing to open their eyes. This crisis was indeed a moment of truth.

After years or even decades of neoliberal policies, with deregulations, privatisations, private public partnerships and cuts in social expenditures, almost all national governments were unprepared to tackle the pandemic. Even worse: they had no clue on how to do it.

In many countries of Western Europe, one of the richest parts of the world, there were no masks to protect health workers, there were no ventilators to care for the sick, there was no protective clothing for the doctors, many public hospitals lacked beds in their intensive care units while several private hospitals refused to open their doors.

While clear guidance had been given by the World Health Organisation and several national public health services on how to prepare for and tackle a pandemic – after outbursts of SARS, MERS, Chikungunya…  – Ministers and their staff did not even know about the requirements.

Add to this, in a country like my own, Belgium, health competences are with 7 (seven!) different ministers. If ever evidence of incompetence and ignorance was needed, here it was.

Written by Francine Mestrum for Valdai Club: read more on the site