Globalization concept


Alexandra De Col

We are ONE World Ut unum sint, “that they may be one”. This is a message that, with the increase of globalization, has gradually evolved from its original religious meaning to an economic one, in order to encourage international cooperation. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought us back to this historical message, demonstrating that to recover from this crisis we must act as one. 

Since the virus’s outbreak, countries have been stocking up on their medical supplies to fight the pandemic. Limited stocks of these necessary products and a sharp fall in global production due to unsafe working environments have pushed governments to impose trade barriers to safeguard domestic production. When the pandemic began in China, its government stockpiled on masks, leaving foreign orders unfulfilled. As the outbreak spread across the globe, China became the world’s primary mask exporter, reports the NY Times. On March 3rd, France announced that it would restrict the sale of its masks abroad. South Korea banned the export of masks and materials used to produce ventilators and the European Union (EU), supplier of half of the world’s ventilators has adopted protectionist measures to limit its exports, says Politico. 

In addition to a shortage of medical supplies, vulnerable communities and low income countries have been exposed to spillover effects on food security due to disruptions in the global supply chain. This has not only caused an income loss to many workers, but has also contributed to the increasing costs of basic products such as wheat and rice. The strong demand shock for these products and the hardships involved in the safe production and distribution of agricultural goods will continue to make the access to basic necessities harder for developing economies and for countries with low agricultural production. 

On March 6th, Germany’s Health Minister informed his EU colleagues that “supplies were not going to where they were most urgently needed, but to where people were paying the most.” The governments’ urge to protect and provide for their own citizens first seems natural, as it is their responsibility to do everything in their power to ensure the highest attainable degree of safety. However, people seem to be forgetting that “none of us are safe until all of us are”. It is essential, for our own safety today and in the future, that investments are made to strengthen both domestic and foreign healthcare, providing safety to developing economies which, especially during this pandemic, are the most vulnerable. 

ONE, an international global movement that advocates eradicating extreme poverty and preventable diseases, has taken action to encourage a global response to this pandemic by launching a new campaign called ONE World. The campaign’s objectives are ensuring that the response to this crisis “guarantees equitable access to a future vaccine, mitigates the economic and social consequences for the most vulnerable, and prepares against future global health threats”. 

This crisis “requires solutions that no single country can deliver on its own”, says ONE. Governments, now more than ever, have to be united and cooperate, because “we are only as strong as the weakest health system in our interconnected world”.