The Covid- 19 will not leave the world in the presentshape and order. In fact, earlier fluesviz the Spanish flue, Asiatic flue, the Hong kong flue or Swine flu too broughtin major changes in and between countries. In the Spanish flue alone more than20 million people perished. The Covid 19 has given rise to serious debate among best minds in the world on how this virus and its aftermath is going to shape the global order. In thelight of this debate what type of regional order will emerge in the most populous region like Southern Asiaplus China? How should we prepare toface the uncertain future are some of the issues that need to be thoughtabout by policy planners and opinion leaders.
The leading experts and thinking minds have dissected theemergence of post-Covid 19 global order and one finds unanimity of viewson some of the most pressing issues. The immediate aftermath of the virus suggests that nation-states are responding tothis challenge in typical nationalist/inward looking way.Even the people in USA have lost faithin globalization and international trade . Immediately we see a trend of strengthening the state and nationalism. Agroup of experts believe that the covid19 will force governments, societies and companies into self-isolation. Leavingaside these issues what is noticeable is the power and capacity of the governments under focus in all parts ofthe world. Some of the best minds in the world argue that it is too early topredict and have a prognosis for a newworld order. True, that Covid 19 has broken the camel's back of economicglobalization but democracies may come out better from the crisis to find new pragmatic and "protective internationalism".The fact of the matter is that theorists and experts shall remain glued todaily happenings and revise/revisit their theories as we continue to remain ina shell-shocked world. We peep into the strength and weaknesses of each stateand system of government. I have heard many people praising the Chinamodel and their way of handling thecrisis and still others holding HongKong and South Korea in great reverence as far as dealing with Covid 19 crisisis concerned . Stephen M Walt rightly states that "the aura of westernbrand is tarnished and power shift may happen from West to East" . KishoreMehbobani (formerly at SingaporeNational University) sees a trend "towards a more China-centricglobalization". The former national security advisor Shiv Shanker Menonhopes that this may not be the end of an inter-connected world and sees signsof hope. He appreciates the recent convening of a video conference of SAARCleaders to craft a common regional response. True there are issues beingraised by some SAARC countries likePakistan as to how Covid 19 fund can be utilized. These issues are bound toarise for the reason that over the years SAARC as a regional organization toois on a ventilator. Be that as it may the SAARC nations plus China as the most important and formidablepower need to immediately start rethinking the whole regional response. This isthe most opportune time to start rethinking the entire concept of"national interest" . It has meant more and more armaments for the nation-state and less and lesssecurity for common people. Further guided missiles for national security andmisguided leaders for the people. Thisis the time we need to think about whatcan be done and no time is opportunethan the " Covid-19 times" to do some genuine self introspection onthe type of world we need to have for us. For a healthy population leastvulnerable to pandemics all stakeholders viz governments, private sector, civil society and policyplanners need to focus on the following:
First, the public sector must invest heavily and significantly in facilities, beginning with community-based clinics. Referral needs to be simple, seamless and secure. In any case the institution of government is back though we may continue to discuss privatization and need for private sector to step-in. Each one of us may have issues related to core competence of the government but people at the end of the day look more and more towards government to deliver. Second, the number of medical schools needs to increase with focus on quality and art of training. This too needs massive investment. The faculty development progranmmes need to be crafted. The centers of excellence in the world need to be identified so that a doctor soon after appointment is deputed to these centers for advanced training.
Third, a newnon-physician work force of public health workers is essential. Adequatelytrained, disciplined lower-level health workers shall remain the bulwark of thehealthcare system True, over the years we have seen opening up of new schoolsof public health by the government andvery few in private sector but more needs to be done. Here also it is the statewhich has to find matching grants for providing employment to these workers.
Fourth, a new generation of biomedical and bioengineeringexpertise is needed within the academic medical institutions to developinnovative, effective, but low-cost solutions to major public health problems of the populations. Thesemust link to the private sector to produce these products .
In the light of above discussion it is recommended that insouthern Asia plus China our approach to combating diseases (not only Covid 19) must move fromcountry-specific one to regional one. This line of thinking gains strength moreas experts like Richard N Haass believe that in the aftermath of Covid 19"state weakness and state failure may turn out to be a prevalent featureof existing order" .