Public Health

10 Important Lessons To Learn From The COVID-19 Pandemic

Since the outbreak started late last year, COVID-19 has affected millions of people worldwide and caused major changes in the way we live our lives. Initially, little was known about this disease that seemed to affect many organs and caused a large number of deaths.

Now, we know quite a lot about COVID-19 and its impact has brought many lessons we should learn going forward. Here are some:

1. Family Is Important

When many countries closed their airspace, limited travel, and declared a total lock-down, one thing that mattered so much was family. Even the busiest of people had to learn to stay at home with their families. According to this report, many families even grew fonder and more connected.

An important lesson for us all going forward is to make out time for family and build proper relationships at home because that’s what really matters.

2. Essential Workers Deserve More

Essential workers such as doctors, nurses, delivery drivers, and even those that sell groceries have been really helpful during the pandemic and helped to save a lot of lives.

The now-glaring role they play in society requires us to prioritize their well-being and ensure that we are able to support them better in emergencies. Many of them exposed themselves to danger in the line of duty and require more than just verbal praises.

They should get better financial remuneration, excellent insurance, and advanced equipment to work with.

3. Governments Must Prioritize Healthcare

The pandemic exposed how unprepared most countries in the world are for health emergencies. It brought out the real picture of the healthcare systems.

Basic healthcare should be a universal right and everyone should have unrestricted access, however, many countries were left with huge shortages of critical equipment like personal protective gear and ventilators.

Countries need to increase their healthcare budgets to match the preparedness necessary for pandemics just the way they plan their defense budgets to cope with any military threats.

It’s a shame that trillions of dollars are spent on advanced weaponry, while the healthcare systems aren’t top-notch. COVID-19 has had a more devastating effect on both human lives and the world’s economy than most wars being fought today.

4. The World Needs To Be More United

The pandemic has taught us that there is a real need for countries to collaborate and share information better. When the outbreak started late last year, there wasn’t enough information being shared about the actual effects and virulence.

The World Health Organization struggled to maintain a constant voice for countries to trust, with information about the disease changing frequently. If most countries knew the extent to which lives could be lost and the potential to cripple their economies, they could have enforced stricter guidelines to prevent the spread of the disease.

The virus that spreads COVID-19 is droplet-based, so, countries could have mass-produced protective gear like facemasks very early on.

The world needs unity and real leadership to prevent pandemics like COVID-19.

5. The Decisions Your Neighbours Make Can Affect You

COVID-19 showed us that the good or bad decisions of people who live with and around you can affect you.

The virus that caused the disease has been shown to be transmitted even by those who have no symptoms. So, a neighbor who defied the lockdown and preventive guidelines could have gotten infected and spread it without even knowing he or she was infected.

Also, the virus is known to cause more serious illness in seniors and those with background medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease. So, a young person who’s been careless can put the lives of vulnerable family members at risk of dying from the disease.

6. Handwashing Saves Lives

Long before this disease outbreak, it is estimated that more than 1 million lives would have been saved yearly if people washed their hands regularly. COVID-19 has also underlined this fact.

If you noticed a rapid increase in the number of times you washed your hands recently, that means you previously weren’t practicing decent hand hygiene. Diseases that can be prevented by hand washing include diarrhea, common cold, flu, and Hepatitis A.

7. Vaccination Saves Lives

Many countries and pharmaceutical companies are rushing to prepare a potent but safe vaccine against COVID-19. Vaccines work by stimulating the immune system to produce antibodies against a particular pathogen.

So, a vaccine is necessary to help the world fight or get rid of COVID-19 for good and save millions of lives. Many terrible diseases like Hepatitis B, Tuberculosis, and even Cervical Cancer are vaccine-preventable and no longer make headlines.

The availability of a safe COVID-19 vaccine will be a very welcome development.

8. Telemedicine Is Here To Stay

The rise of apps like Zoom helped to buffer the effect of the lockdown on how many businesses operate. It helped to organize important meetings online and made employers keep track of what was going on in their companies.

Healthcare also witnessed the rise of telemedicine, with many hospitals jumping on-board and embracing the use of the internet in medical consultations. Governments even relaxed laws that inhibited telemedicine and encouraged their citizens to only go to clinics when very necessary.

We can expect that in the coming months and years, people will have better access to direct healthcare services online.

9. Taking a Break Is Possible

If anything taught us that taking a month or two away from work can be helpful, COVID-19 did. For many business executives who spend the year traveling for many meetings and conferences, the lockdowns must have served as a period of compulsory rest.

Studies have shown that many people do not take their complete paid vacation and prefer to work instead. This robs them of the necessary rest that comes with vacations and the opportunity to relax, re-plan, and re-purpose.

COVID-19 brought that opportunity to rethink our priorities and choose to lead healthier lives.

10. We Must Respect Nature

While there is no clear explanation of the origin of the disease, scientists believe that it originated from human-animal interaction in a live animal market.

From climate change to our interaction with animals, we have to be careful in caring for our planet and protecting nature. Because not doing so can be disastrous with alarming consequences like COVID-19.

By Dr. Omiete Charles-Davies, MBBS

Dr. Charles-Davies is a medical doctor who graduated from the University of Lagos with a degree in Medicine and Surgery. He has vast experience in health entrepreneurship and is passionate about improving healthcare globally.

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