The Center for International Development’s Beyond COVID initiative is a global, multi-year, and cross-sectoral collaboration between academia and public, private, and non-profit leaders. The initiative continues to focus on utilizing the window of opportunity the pandemic has opened to rethink and build new systems that help to create inclusive prosperity and a better world.
As a part of this initiative, during the 2021-2022 academic year, CID brought together practitioners and faculty experts in development to delve into the key dimensions of COVID response and recovery. Through panel discussions and podcast interviews, CID cultivated productive conversations outlining how to use pandemic lessons to create more resilient systems for the future. As a culmination of the panel and podcast series, we compiled key takeaways from these conversations that help to guide our continued focus on pandemic recovery.
Technological advancements enabled the creation of effective COVID vaccines at a rapid pace. How do we ensure inclusive access to these health technologies?
- Many doses of vaccines went unused and wasted due to structural and systematic issues
- Vaccine nationalism and classist hoarding patterns have prevented effective delivery
- Marginalized groups fell into governmental blind spots globally and were left out of vaccine campaigns
- Improve the global data and information infrastructure to invest, procure, and deliver vaccines on a global scale. E.g., policies could focus on incentivizing pharmaceutical companies to manufacture vaccines in low-income countries; policies could work harmoniously on a global scale to adapt to emergency situations, allowing for better-organized efforts
- Improve the related systems within countries to distribute vaccines nationally to marginalized groups. There needs to be as much of a focus on building resilient systems within countries for intranational distribution as there is on ensuring international vaccine delivery to countries
COVID helped reinforce the notion that resilient health systems is vital for a healthy population and a well-functioning society. How do we use this momentum to ensure the prioritization of preventing and treating ongoing diseases in a post-pandemic world?
- Severe chronic diseases were ignored during the pandemic leading to preventable suffering and deaths and worsening untreated mental health illnesses
- Lack of public health transparency and ineffective communication remain large challenges and exacerbate the existing politicization of health and science
- Reform our health architecture to ensure that in a health crisis, there remains the capacity to address and treat other diseases
- Coordination and partnership should be considered the most essential elements to ensuring that public health is an ongoing priority
- Ensure support for health technology by improving the communication channels from scientists; effective communication and transparency about vaccines, preventative measures, etc., especially to communities targeted for misinformation, can foster trust and help remove the political nature of these topics
- Fostering better institutions that bring together public policy, public health, and political leadership in settings can allow critical leading, thinking, and reflection
COVID has completely dismantled the global notion of ‘work’. With increased flexibility, technological advancements enabling remote work, and a workforce that is demanding more support from their employer's, how do we effectively harness the silver linings to make work more equitable, enjoyable, and financially sustainable?
- Global unequal access to financial resources and vaccinations have created enormous implications for the world of work
- “Time poverty” has and continues to harm many, especially working women because a disproportionate share of household responsibilities falls on them
- A changing landscape of work could present difficulties for many workers globally
- There is a need for institutional level changes to negotiate both monetary as well as non-monetary conditions for the high-skilled and low-skilled workforce worldwide
- Employers should provide workplace flexibility equitably for all workers in the organization to improve employee engagement and satisfaction
- Sectoral and active labor market training could help disadvantaged workers pivot to more productive lines of work and technical assistance to Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) could help business owners adapt to changing ecosystems
- The provision of safety nets in this new and increasingly atomized world of work can help vulnerable workers as they find ways to pivot
COVID was detrimental to economies globally, and many countries are still struggling to bounce back. How can we ensure that the economic growth during the post-COVID era is enjoyed by all?
- There has been major growth divergence between countries: the United States has bounced back sharply while many developing economies – which had limited fiscal space to increase spending during the crisis – are experiencing significant destruction of formal employment and may face years of lost output
- Perpetuating economic inequality, even in countries ‘bouncing back,’ prevents inclusive growth
- The digital divide within and between countries threatens to deepen inequalities if left unaddressed
- Continuation of remote work when possible can address affordable housing, air pollution, and traffic congestion
- Anything that can be done from home can be done from abroad. Developing countries can participate in tasks previously completed in rich countries, creating an opportunity for new kinds of service exports for developing countries
- There is a need for better targeting of stimulus spending in the United States to vulnerable populations
- There is a need to rethink national policy to prevent the spread of disease to ensure transmission is kept at a minimum without imposing costly, stringent lockdowns
COVID exposed and exacerbated many long-standing educational inequalities within and between nations. But our ability to adapt to online learning revealed the power that technology can have to connect learners. How can we ensure that the power of technology is used to decrease the effects of inequality in education and that educational attainment and outcomes improve equitably?
- COVID put 1.6 billion children out of school and has cast a ‘long shadow’ on their futures in the labor force
- There have been massive interpersonal connection losses that classroom schooling fosters
- An individual’s nationality, sub-nationality, social class, and other factors determine access to quality education, and the pandemic exacerbated this
- Ensuring that the new global focus on education that gained traction during the pandemic does not lose momentum
- Utilizing digital pedagogy has been and will continue to be an innovative response
- Governments should prioritize data collection on those most at risk of dropping out so effective and targeted interventions can be made
- Ensuring that every child has internet access is a vital component to combat educational inequities exposed during the pandemic
- While digital infrastructure is important to improve learning, schools operate as a leveling field which cannot be replaced by laptops at home