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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 6/24/21

Were people the missing link in Covid response?

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Bobby Ramakant - CNS

People matter most and have key role too in helping shape effective solutions to problems that face us all
People matter most and have key role too in helping shape effective solutions to problems that face us all
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Highest level of political leadership in Covid response is indeed unprecedented if we look at other health responses such as those for HIV, non-communicable diseases, TB or other communicable diseases that affect our lives. But were people having any voice in helping shape the response to the corona virus pandemic? To what extent did governments adapt important game-changing learnings over the past decades from several other health and development struggles?

Incidentally, a few days after the world celebrated Juneteenth to mark end of slavery, a Webinar hosted by International Antiviral Society (IAS) USA had put spotlight on "Nothing Without Us: Civil Society Solutions to the COVID-19 Pandemic". Inequities and social injustices that have plagued most of our population, has only allowed tiny number of rich elites to amass enormous wealth and power. When the public health emergency ensued with the spread of the corona virus, these very inequities and social injustices not only got exposed but were dangerously pronounced thereby crippling the response.

COVID Advocates Advisory Board (CAAB)

Jim Pickett, co-founder of International Rectal Microbicides Advocates and Senior Director of Prevention Advocacy at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, who was moderating the session, said that biomedical strategies to diagnose, prevent, and treat COVID-19 are urgently needed, and efforts to rapidly develop these tools are underway worldwide. Accelerated research enhances the need for civil society input to ensure ethical development and access to these tools worldwide to ensure social justice. In this context, community engagement necessitates innovative structures, mechanisms, and actions, said Jim while explaining the key role for the COVID Advocates Advisory Board (CAAB) which currently connects over 125 people worldwide. CAAB's efforts are directed towards the achievement of social justice, health equity and the defense of human rights, said Jim.

Like HIV, COVID too has hit communities of colour the hardest

Social and racial injustices and inequities that COVID has brought to the forefront has also resulted in the grim reality that many racial and ethnic communities are at heightened risk of getting sick and dying from COVID, such as, people of colour. These social determinants of health have historically prevented them from having fair opportunities for economic, physical, and emotional health.

Rob Newells, Director of National Programmes for Black AIDS Institute, said that they rose to the challenge early in the pandemic. Interventions like delivering groceries to the people in need, and more importantly, getting the right information to the communities also became a priority. "Each one, teach one! It boils down to empowering others to tell the stories," Rob said, who is doing his best to ensure that people themselves become the messenger and harbinger of right information that empowers them and their fellow beings.

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