By Phil Hall
In China the barefoot doctors believed in prevention rather than cure. So how can we make societies like ours more resilient to pandemic infections like Covid-19?
Well, we could advocate for a more humane society. That would make us much more resilient. We could guarantee a fully functioning, well-funded health service free of charge for everyone. To fund this better health service we could increase income tax. How about going back to the 60’s and having a generous tax rate of up to 90% on the highest of high earners? Generous to ordinary people, I mean.
Covid-19 attacks the unhealthy, the impoverished; improve nutrition and make people healthier that way. Ban low quality processed foods from sale. Make sure that only cruelty free animals and animal products are sold: meat, eggs milk and so on. Set higher standards for food production and sale.
How about going back to the 60’s and having a generous tax rate of up to 90% on the highest of high earners? Generous to ordinary people, I mean.
How about exercise to go with it? Encourage people to garden in the cities. Give everyone a country plot of land where they can grow an orchard or vegetables. They used to do this in the Soviet Union. Many people had dachas, little plots of land outside town. In the UK we could increase the supply of allotments.
How about investing heavily in universities and encouraging them to find scientific solutions to diseases. We could focus investment on the most advanced areas of medical research. Make medicine more affordable. Control the big pharmaceutical companies and force them to hand over the recipes for useful drugs over shorter time periods. Give the NHS access cheaper generic drugs.
Why not provide quality, free health education on all aspects of human health and health protection and the prevention of diseases? Why not provide sports facilities for everyone of every age to help them improve their overall health; from bowling greens to football grounds. Give the playgrounds stolen from schools back to the children.
Covid -19 loves crowded spaces. Make public transport spacious, frequent, clean and affordable.
Make us more healthy and disease resistant by encouraging more people to cycle. Build proper, isolated cycle lanes in every British city. Be like Amsterdam. Provide free bicycles for public use. Make the very centres of all cities and towns car free.
Covid -19 loves crowded spaces. Make public transport spacious, frequent, clean and affordable. Encourage trust in politics by ensuring a rigorous democratic selection process before every election so that MPs and local council officials are kept honest and answerable. Make it very difficult for people to have full professional careers as politicians. Increase citizen participation in all political processes.
Bring in the four day week. That would reduce people’s stress and reduce crowding on public transport and in offices and schools. You know it makes sense.
Pensioners are the victims of Covid-19. Provide pensioners and affordable housing. Give pensioners good money so that they can afford to live healthily. Reward all carers generously, especially family members. Ensure a living wage and good working conditions for all employees in the public and private sectors so that people have the leisure time and money they need to eat healthily and exercise. Encourage worker participation on company boards.
Make contingency plans for epidemics and learn from the lessons of previous epidemics in order to mitigate the problems. Buy in sufficient equipment to handles such a crisis and make preparations through the WHO to combat pandemics in a coordinated and effective way in future.
Prevention really is better than cure.
Phil Hall is a university lecturer working in the Middle East. He is a committed socialist and humanitarian. Phil was born in South Africa where his parents were in the ANC. There, his mother was imprisoned and his father was the first journalist from a national paper to be banned. Phil grew up in East Africa and settled in Kingston-upon-Thames. He has also lived and worked in the Ukraine, Spain and Mexico. Phil has blogged for the Guardian, the Morning Star and several other publications and he has written stories for The London Magazine.