Global Health Academy

COVID-19: Global Health concerns and a call for compassionate actions

Assistant Principal Prof Liz Grant, Director of the Global Health Academy reflects on the current Global Health crisis and issues a call for collective and caring action

Deserted streets of Edinburgh
Deserted streets by Hannah Richie OurWorldinData @_hannahritchie

These are very challenging times for all of us.  

Never has global health become so localised and local behaviours had such a massive impact on global health as in these last weeks. Those epidemiological constructs looking at patterns of disease, exposures, risks, incidence and prevalence dominate every news bulletin. The shift from an outbreak, to an epidemic to a pandemic has happened rapidly.

COVID-19 has changed the way the world is.  Disease containment and mitigation measures are in place in every country.

As a global health community we are concerned not just with the science of this disease, but with its impact – especially its impact on those who are already struggling with other health related burdens, and with healthcare systems struggling with managing current disease and illness levels in their countries.

This pandemic has shown us the volatility of healthcare. It highlights the danger of treating health services and health workers as expendable.  It has shown us that no country and no health system is immune to challenges.

This pandemic is a global health emergency on a scale no one has ever seen before. Its geographic spread parallels its societal spread – into every sector. It is impacting on education, on livelihoods, on food and water security, on the economy. It is making many people physically ill.  It is disproportionately affecting those who are already vulnerable through fragility,  or underlying medical conditions. It is affecting all of us spiritually, emotionally, socially and financially.

At this time we need wise, compassionate leaders – leaders who recognise our interdependence as people and a planet. We need cross-border collaborations and real-time sharing of learning.

As we pursue medical, social and political responses to COVID-19, we must also tackle the inequalities that surround us. This crisis asks for our renewed commitment to the value of every life.

Together we will know grief. Together we can drive creative, courageous and compassionate responses.

In these unprecedented times we can and must forge new ways of working. We must act like we all matter and are connected – because we do, and we are.