Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

Student Reflections on Topics Covered in our Class

Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

How has the world been coping with COVID-19?

October 8, 2020 · No Comments · COVID19, Uncategorized

The coronavirus pandemic has enormously changed the world. From social distancing norms, mandated mask norms, decreased in-person socializing, and increasing use of technology to stay in touch to the adoption of remote work, decline for small newly established businesses, and change in urbanization trends, Covid-19 has brought a vast change in our day to day life and this change is here to stay.

A recent article in The New York Times “It’s 2022. What Does Life Look Like?” has described how the Covid-19 has affected businesses, schools, shopping experiences, economy, and employment and will continue to do so through 2022. Its been a difficult year for businesses, especially those which rely on in-person experiences. For instance, due to the entire world shifting online, small business owners at malls or grocery store owners are doing poorly. Owing to the poor returns in online shopping or no income at all, several business owners have reopened in-person businesses, resulting in mixed reactions from the general population, politicians, and other business owners as well. While Covid-19 still continues to be a known risk to the population, such business owners are also facing the wrath of rent deposits, mortgages, loan installments, and having to provide for their families as well.

Another important sector affected due to Covid-19 is higher education. Revenue for schools and universities has dropped due to online learning, which unfortunately has not been the best of experience for a large part of the population. Online learning has been a boon, for sure, in such unprecedented times. However, the pre-requisites to a flawless online learning experience are not feasible to everyone, especially, the low socio-economic stratum in low and middle-income countries. An article in DownToEarth “COVID-19: How viable is online education?” clearly explains the possible drawbacks of online learning. Furthermore, online learning without skills development is not beneficial and will further exacerbate the growing unemployment.

This has also created problems for teachers. In India, a lot of states have decided to cut down teacher salaries to less than half due to the ongoing pandemic and the absence of revenue in online learning. However, teachers have been facing the same technological barriers and feasibility problems that the students and parents are facing. Having to invest in resources, and teach several classes from home, while managing their own children, and receiving absolutely nothing in return is not fair either. NewAge Bangladesh in their article “Teachers’ woes continue as they face job loss, salary cut” has recounted the experiences of teachers who have faced job loss and salary cuts and the government that has failed to provide adequate compensation to teachers.

As discussed in “Higher Education Responses to Coronavirus (COVID-19)” even though, universities have shifted to online learning or hybrid learning and face shortages of revenue owing to refunds, fewer admissions, and dorm cleaning process, several schools have offered resources to students such as opening university libraries, provide mobile hotspots, and refunds to on-campus students. With the closure of university campuses across the country, several colleges have created emergency relief funds to help students with their expenses. Additionally, a lot of students held on-campus employments which have been affected due to Covid-19. The department of Education has thus allowed institutions to continue paying wages to such students. Also, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) stimulus package have relaxed student loan payments by deferring payments and interest on federal loans, suspending penalties for borrowers, and waiving the requirement of the entire loan amount paid in the event that the student withdraws from the course through September 30, 2020.

The impact of Covid-19 in the health sector has been profound. But an equally profound surge in the number of domestic violence cases, suicides, and sexual and physical harassment cases across the globe has been noted. 1 out of every 3 women will experience some form of abuse in their lifetime. In such unfortunate times, when the victim is locked with the abuser, the cases have increased drastically. At the same time, suicide cases have also increased. Stress due to the financial burden, lockdown, and existing physical conditions have exacerbated mental health issues. Mental health is a highly ignored issue and cases of poor mental health are extremely unnoticed. “Impact of COVID-19 on domestic violence in Bangladesh” provides some of the alarming domestic violence statistics since the beginning of the pandemic.

Another lingering question is the vaccine we have all been waiting for. How will life continue until vaccines are available? Will life return to normal? I believe life will never be the same. Mask selfies, remote work, increased online meetings over in-person meetings, and socializing over the phone have become the new normal. Countries across the globe are racing to provide the world with the much-anticipated vaccine however, the big question is accessibility and affordability. The price of the vaccine should be such that is equally affordable to the high-income countries as well as to the middle and low-income countries, and to the rich and the poor alike. The vulnerable populations are highly susceptible to the virus, given their living conditions, and the lack of health care. Without proper price controls, such populations would be hit the hardest. However, price control introduces a new problem. Price control on vaccines will discourage providers from an equal distribution of the vaccine. STAT news “A coronavirus vaccine should be for everyone, not just those who can afford it” very aptly describes problems of affordability.

Despite all the health hazards that COVID-19 has surrounded the world with, it has done a good job of improving the environment with a decrease in carbon emissions, clean air, and clean water. Additionally, with most work now online, people have more time to spend with their families. People are spending more time with friends and family and have been able to restructure their lives in a positive way.

The Covid-19 pandemic has helped us relearn our basic health and hygiene measures. People are more consciously and regularly washing their hands and maintaining better personal hygiene. It has also reminded us of the risks associated with non-communicable diseases, and the need to eat right.

We have all spent more than half of the year locked away in our homes with little or no physical interaction with others. We can all hope that the coming year would bring positive news!


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