Misery and health

Publish date 25-10-2020

by Mauro Palombo

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the countries of the southern hemisphere - in Africa, Asia, Latin America - from a health point of view has so far been very serious in some regions, a little 'less in others; everywhere, however, no matter how different the places, the pandemic is afflicting the local economy and the lives of millions of people.
In some realities, such as in Brazil, the extreme contradictions of structural inequality and exclusion have exploded: the health crisis accelerates the economic crisis and that of governability. In the past decades the efforts of many initiatives for human promotion and development, the efforts of the poor alongside them, have achieved very important results; evidence of how an action carried out with intelligence, involvement, transferring skills and responsibilities, changes the destiny of many, escaped from poverty and hunger, entered school ... But what is there for all to see is how long the situations still remain in a precarious and vulnerable balance. Where misery is the great enemy of health.

This is especially the case in large cities that have grown out of all proportion where people live miserably and in high-density areas. In such conditions, limiting movement and assembly, asking for physical distancing, ends up having no meaning. When even the informal economy comes to a standstill, with no savings to count on as room for maneuver, many leave urban centers to return to their villages of origin, where subsistence is cheaper, and less affected by the commercial speculation that quickly comes forward in a vicious circle. And this also aggravates the health problem, in the impossibility of respecting basic prevention rules.
Something better, on the other hand, is precisely in rural communities, small or not, - not surprisingly to be preserved and made to grow -, where hunger has made less progress; those who have been able to follow a path of development have at least acquired a certain food security, which also problems of logistics and transport caused by the "closures" affect less. Unfortunately, not sparing the management of surpluses, which at this time are more difficult to place on the market.

Long Term Answers
It helps to manage the emergency by preventing the spread of the virus with the availability of water, soap, masks, disinfectants; informing correctly on the rules to follow, assisting food emergencies. But this is something more that must not make us lose the prospect of a long-term emergency: eliminating misery. Only promoting development with renewed commitment is the real answer. What the health emergency is triggering is, once more, the symptom of this primary and immediate need. What has been achieved so far, and the real and widespread benefits steadily brought, is proof of this. But it is a priority path, which must gain greater strength, for even more stable results.
In today's scenario, a closed school, for many it can then be forever: a downhill road to the return of misery. But from a school that you truly educate by developing the person and the supportive community, from a dispensary, from a fountain of safe water for consumption, from a well-cultivated and productive field, an accessible market on fair terms, the future comes.
The poor are well aware that it is up to them, day by day, laboriously but incessantly, to build for themselves and their families. Continue with ongoing initiatives, build new ones: the dream of a different world passes through intelligence, method and constancy.

Mauro Palombo
NP August / September 2020

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