I guess we have all seen posts shared by friends, friends of friends on WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media platforms about the pandemic. Some in complete denial about the virus claiming it to be a hoax, while others raising questions about the draconian restrictions imposed on the society by democratic governments across the world. People have questioned the science as well as the experts along with the vaccine. And all this has stretched our collective society to the extent that makes you wonder if our society is unravelling in front of us ?
It has been a very chaotic and stressful experience for most of us, no doubt, but if you look at history then you may realise that in fact, we have been here before. The research shows that conspiracy theories are more prevalent in the time of crisis. Historical evidence shows us that the popularity of these ideas does tend to peak during cataclysmic events and social upheaval. For example, conspiracy theories were quite prominent during previous pandemics also, be it the Black Death or the Russian flu and the 1918 flu pandemic. So perhaps what we are witnessing is nothing but human nature at work ?
During my numerous discussions on the subject matter with friends and family, I have come to a realisation that most of us tend to expect too much from experts and the governments. In my view, while the experts do know more about the subject than an average citizen for example. They don’t always have the complete picture, and the gaps in their own understanding of the situation sort of creates a void at times, where they end up having to walk back on some of their claims, which obviously hurts their credibility with the society. And we have seen ample evidence of that during this COVID-19 induced pandemic.
Our working assumption that governments and experts should have all the answers at all times is not only flawed but also dangerous. It is what fuels our mistrust in governments and experts. I believe, it is always in the best interest of governments to level with the society about the level of control they may have over events like a global pandemic.
I also believe that most governments have done their best ( or at least tried ) considering the situation they were facing, but they have come up short because of gaps in their own understanding of how the pandemic will unfold. And I do think that as a society we do need to allow experts and governments to make mistakes. That is how we have progressed as a collective over time. Our inflexibility around our ability to keep an open mind on an issue, not just undermines the government but also our society at large.
No policy is ever perfect, and some of them do unravel quite fast because they are at best half baked ideas. Some of the government policies are more agenda and politically driven then what is in the best interest of the society, and that is part of the problem.
As a society what we also need to realise is that, our current healthcare infrastructure isn’t designed to meet a sudden upsurge in demand. We have built for ourselves a sick care health system, and not a system that is proactively engaged in keeping the society healthier so not many of us get sick at the same time.
It is my view that healthcare is not just a priority sector but also a national security issue because without people there will be no country or an economy for that matter. And therefore, a whole-of-the-government approach to create capacity in the healthcare is key to meeting the healthcare challenges of the future.
As I see it, every government department should have some allocation towards healthcare and not just the department for health, and the countries with public healthcare system should allow private sector to help build more capacity so community care is available at the doorstep, where its needed the most.
Workplace should also offer embedded healthcare concierge services. So the focus should be on transforming the healthcare with technology, and the aim should be to deliver a personalised and proactive primary healthcare system that evolves with an evolving society. An industrialised approach to healthcare isn’t fit for purposes. We need a system that is fully invested in keeping people healthy over their life time, and be there for them when they get sick needing clinical care.
A sick care model is not sustainable for publicly run healthcare system, and also it is not a model that works for individuals also. It is profitable for a government to keep its people healthy for as long as possible. And therefore, a “ whole-of-the-government” approach is key to making this work.
Assessing the governments response to the pandemic will take time, but we can’t expect any government to have a silver bullet that will address all the immediate challenges in a crisis event. Every government decision will have ramifications including the support provided to businesses and the society during the lockdown. For example, the currently high level of inflation in the economy as well as supply chain disruption was fully expected because a large part of it was driven by government policies. And it will take time for these policies to unwind.
While people may look at inflation and the supply chain disruption etc as hurdles facing the global economy, and rightly so. But as an entrepreneur, I look at it as an opportunity. I see no harm in people moving to rural areas from packed cities to help meet the rising cost of inflation. The economy has to adjust, and it has to change. Because it isn’t working for a large percentage of the population. Also I am extremely confident that companies are learning to become more efficient. And there is a lesson for the governments here also. We all learn from trial & error, and so does nature.
From what I see, for us to exit this global pandemic, we will need to learn to understand that, it is in our own best interest to act as a global collective. Closing borders and imposing harsher restrictions alone won’t solve the problem. The virus sees no boundaries.
Every policy will have long term implications on the society. We will need to be honest and admit our mistakes including a possibility that we may have played a role in creating long covid phenomena by over treating the patients. Again, we have to allow ourselves to learn from trial & error.
Government agencies were empowered to serve a free society, but when the same agencies limit the free society, there will be push back. It is human nature, but as long as we are genuinely invested in each other, we will be able to keep our collective society together.