I spent much of 2022 working on the World Disasters Report for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. We looked at what went right and wrong during the covid-19 pandemic and how to do better next time. And now the report is out, so here's a summary.
The impact of covid-19 has been staggering. About 1 person in every 1000 has died, all our lives have been changed, and the economy has taken a huge hit.
This happened because the vast majority of countries weren't prepared.
Some of this is obvious: limited stockpiles of masks, hospitals being run at capacity in "normal" times so there was no headroom when cases spiked, etc.
But it goes deeper. We weren't prepared because our governments neglected three crucial things.
Trust: if people trust each other and their governments, they will comply with public health measures, but governments often failed to build trust - especially with marginalised communities.
Equity: the poor and marginalised are the most vulnerable, so diseases both exploit inequities and make them worse. Being prepared means having a plan to handle inequities.
Local action: outbreaks begin in communities, so there has to be preparation at the local level. This allows responses to be tailored to community needs.
If we get those three things right, we'll be in a much better place when the next big bad disease turns up.
Read the World Disasters Report 2022.
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