A Truly United Nations: Victory Against the Virus

By: Tasnoba Nusrat (SOURCE)

History will forever mark March 11, 2020 as the official day on which the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. With the potential to infect millions, this virus has been ubiquitous in nature -- pervading geographic landscapes, political boundaries, and demographic designations. Even with efforts to “flatten the curve,” government officials, private sector organizations, and private individuals attempt to identify the correct course of action under these unprecedented conditions -- from hand washing to social distancing . As the toll of confirmed cases ticks up, the economy is rattled, social routines are upended, and healthcare systems brace themselves for a seemingly inevitable fate. It begs the burning question: when and how will it eventually end? At this point in time, there is only speculation on how this pandemic will play out, but what can be determined with complete certainty, is that it eventually will. Until that day arrives however, from the individual level to the broadest organization, it is critical for us to unite as a global community in this battle of human versus virus, and prove once again that the resilience and resourcefulness of the human spirit is boundless.

The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres defines this challenge to be “the true fight of our lives”... “calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world” and urging everyone to combine forces to combat the “fury of the virus.” From peace-keeping to knowledge sharing, the United Nations has maintained a focus to support such humanitarian efforts during this time of crisis. Its agencies have mobilized to build a globally united and empowered front in the battle against this virus. 

  • The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has reported that leaders have engaged in meaningful conversations with the Taliban to promote peace -- setting aside feuds to prioritize the welfare of Afghans, and making more progress in a few days than in the past 20 years. 

  •  Collaborating with other humanitarian agencies like the Red Cross, the UN Secretary General has launched a $2B response plan to support member states during this pandemic -- enabling early case detection, increasing access to clean water, developing channels for supplying goods to the developing world. 

  • UN COVID-19 Task Force has recognized the need for infrastructural support across parts of the developing world, and has partnered with the government in Somalia to assist in training healthcare workers and provide tools for hygiene management in response to the pandemic. 

  • While many UN agencies service efforts on-the-ground, WHO has established the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for any private individual or institution to donate. Funds will be directed to assessing the spread of the virus, supporting health care professionals on the front lines, and enabling efforts for treatment/ vaccine development. 

  • From UNICEF to UN Women, United Nations agencies have provided guidance on how to respond to affected groups here.

Over the past few weeks, conditions brought on by COVID-19 have already been met with a range of responses, many of which showcase the best humanity has to offer: acts of love, courage, and profound ingenuity. Moments like this illustrate the extensive capacity of the human heart and mind.

  • Despite the shortage of personal protective equipment and at the risk of their own lives, doctors and nurses around the world continue to position themselves on the front lines of caring for COVID-19 patients. Rightfully, they have been equated to soldiers from WWII (here). 

  • Under societal suspension, essential workers across America play a pivotal role in ensuring food, medication, transportation, water, safety and other critical resources remain accessible to the public.

  • From amassing masks and ventilators, to leveraging data points to determine the most effective means of flattening the curve, private sector organizations have formed the COVID-19 Health Care Coalition to develop and deploy resources to mitigate the pandemic’s effects. 

  • Herculean efforts in Wuhan have prompted the development of a new hospital containing 1,000 beds -- built in only six days. At an equally impressive speed, the U.S. Army is able to convert a New York City convention center into one of the largest makeshift hospitals in the country

  • Those singing from their balconies in Italy during quarantine remind us of the potent and universal ability for music to connect and move us through unpredictable times.

COVID-19 has brought about a unique set of precarious circumstances for the world, marking the first time our modern, technologized, global society has witnessed such a massive uprooting at scale. It has shaken our economic structures and challenged fundamental pillars on which we have constructed our societal operations. At the time of writing this, we mourn the loss of over 40 thousand around the world, and brace ourselves for what is believed to come over the next few weeks. While we cannot foresee what the future holds, we can rest assured that we have never been as connected as a global community as we are now. From the single individual to the established institution, these times remind us of the common humanity which underpins our existence in this world. Whether it is the nurse that takes on the night shift in the New York City hospital, or the workers teaching local Somalians about the spread of coronavirus, we are all accountable to ending this pandemic. And when we look back at this global phenomena, regardless of when that will be, history will forever mark it as yet another moment in which the strength of the human spirit, overcoming all odds, has come out victorious.

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