Universal healthcare isn’t a nice thing to have, it is essential to addressing future health crises and development in general.
The pandemic has shown that universal healthcare is the ultimate global public good. That’s the contention of Winnie Byanyima in her essay “Providing Free Healthcare for All, Everywhere”. To address future pandemics, free healthcare needs to be long-term, not just a COVID-19-related one-off.
This points to the need for major funding. If worldwide universal healthcare is recognized as a global public good, governments, financial institutions and private lenders need to go beyond the current raft of temporary debt suspensions. Bilateral donors and international financial institutions should go further and offer grants rather than loans.
Alongside this, Byanyima argues that business needs to step up and show a different type of leadership – one that recognizes its dependence on healthy societies and on a proper balance between market and the state. This translates into placing some goods and services outside the rules of the market.
The pandemic has created opportunities for tackling mental health in ways beyond the norm.
Initially hidden, the socio-psychological effects of the pandemic are becoming more noticeable and threaten to leave a lasting legacy, manifesting themselves as depression, domestic abuse, racism and nationalism.
In their essay “A Socio-Psychological Perspective,” several authors from the National University of Singapore – an academic adviser to the Forum’s Global Risks Report – unravel these problems and highlight areas of opportunity.
They suggest that companies rethink decisions to lay off employees, and instead redeploy their underutilized manpower and resources to better support frontline organizations engaged in mental and public health services, allowing companies to stay relevant and resilient while addressing important societal needs emerging from the crisis.
Alongside fears that the pandemic will stoke nationalism, it can also heighten social awareness of marginalized communities and promote greater support for homegrown businesses.
Governments can also encourage the return of skilled national talent through attractive remuneration and appeals in areas of talent shortage.
Ultimately, nations that choose to share their competencies in the face of a global threat will have the advantage of enhancing trust and future collaboration across borders.