By Athina Kariati
Some days ago, WHO (World Health Organisation) announced that a new influenza strain has been detected. Its name G4 and it’s part of the H1N1 virus that caused the swine flu in 2009.
A little bit more than 6 months after the covid -19 pandemic started, and the scientists are already warning of a new pandemic.
Of course the scientists were warning of pandemics since years. They saw them spreading when the exploitation of nature brought us closer to the wild animals. They saw them in the crowded cells of the intensive animal farming. Since 2003 and the first SARS pandemic, which was another coronavirus, the governments around the world knew what was about to come and should have been acting on it.
The question is, why didn’t they prepare but let millions of people to be infected and thousands to die? Why didn’t they prepare so they avoid the lockdowns that are said to cause the biggest financial crisis since the 1930s?
Private profit is the short answer.
In order to properly prepare for a pandemic the governments should have been given money to the public health systems, money for research on a vaccine, and finally an antibiotic. None of these happened. Because this money brings no private profit to the corporations that rule our societies.
So Covid 19 found most of the countries, including both sides of Cyprus, with degraded health systems, hospitals on the verge of collapse, with not enough ICUs, personnel, ventilators, no PPE even for doctors and nurses!. That was the result of years of defunding and deregulating the health systems, so that the private sector can enter the market and make huge profits.
That was the reason in reality for the need of a lockdown! Were there good quality public health systems, there would be no need to stop all activity in order to contain the virus!
Now, after three months of lockdowns, trillions of dollars and euros will be given around the world to the private companies as stimuli for investing, for recovery! However it’s only a very small amount of this money, if any, that will go to the health systems!
In north Cyprus, there is no plan on building new hospitals, hiring more health workers, or even dedicating one hospital especially as a pandemic centre. In south Cyprus a new yard was built in the General Hospital of Nicosia, impressively in just 25 days, however they hired only ⅓ of the personnel that are needed to run it and cover the needs of the public hospitals in total!
We are entering a new era. The airports are open with minimum control of the passengers that enter the island, even though in both sides of the island the infection came from Germany, United Kingdom and Italy! Nobody can guarantee that a second wave of the pandemic, another lockdown will not be needed.
But we cannot survive going in and out of full or partial lockdowns because the governments don’t want to really invest in the health system! And when i say we, i mean the working people, the self employed, all of us that during the lockdown took very little or nothing from the governments’ handouts, and were trying to survive with almost nothing, that we live with the threat of being unemployed above our heads, that don’t have proper health care. Because the bosses do have money to spare. They have accumulated millions from our labor.
So it is correct that the protests organised the last few days were demanding hospitals, ICUs, tests and PPE in order to go back to “normal”. These are what we need to battle a second wave of the pandemic, or any other pandemic. We need also a fast vaccine and proper medication, so we need the pharmaceuticals to be taken into the control of the society, to abolish patents so that all of them can work for the common cause. We need health to be regarded as a basic human need and not profit. There is money for these investments, in the vaults of the banks, the casinos and the big hotels. We just need to take them under the society’s control.
Ultimately we need another way of agriculture and food production, in order to stop the spread of these viruses and other pathogens from the animals to humans. We need a different planning of our society all together which can protect the environment and put an end to the exploitation, poverty and hunger that characterise capitalism from its inception.