The devastating effect of COVID-19 pandemic on this universe was very devastating without any doubt almost involving 180 countries. All the superpowers were clueless, WHO was helpless, this resulted in Industrial & economic collapse all over the word, every country will gets a pinch, because of international trade, travel, traffic, investment, finance & more so oil crises. The worst effect on an ordinary person is by…, first the factory/work close; second is supply chain disruption; third is complete collapse in demand.
Impact will be serious on Unemployment, Education, Health, Economic, & Political.
Unemployment: The Covid-19 crises is having devastating effects on workers & employers, massive losses, both of output & jobs across all sectors due to economic stagnation, almost 25millions jobs could be lost, because of decline in economic activity, this will leads to poverty, increase in crime rate & more people fell into unsocial activities.e. extremist / drugs mafia. Ehsaas Programme launched by the Govt. is certainly a good one & looks very transparent, only deserving are getting this cash allowance Rs.12000!! No doubt Dr.Sania Nishtar doing her best to reach the poor in these difficult times. Still, we don’t know how the current & previous Govt. utilizing Zakat &Baitul Mal funds for needy! We need to know the amount collected/contributed & transparency of distribution of funds. Leading Philanthropic organizations are playing a pivotal role as always in Pakistan helping poor & needy, providing food items(rations), Zakat & donations. We need a comprehensive audit of the funds used of taxpayer money/donations/funds from abroad, this nation is still waiting for the audit… funds collected in the name of “ Qarz Utaro Mulak Sawaroo”!!.
Health: Pakistan's current population is about 220m, we don’t have the proper kits & Lab testing facilities for simple screening & diagnosis of Coronavirus to date, we need a laboratory with biosafety level 4 (BSL-4). Health & education is not a priority of any govt. since the creation of Pakistan, this is the reason we are unable to eradicate Polio, TB & Hepatitis on the rise, every year people die of Dengue fever, malaria, typhoid & Malnutrition. Diabetes related complication, safe drinking water!…. all this putting more burdens on our National health system. We have not been able to manufacture good vaccines as yet because of lack of research, resources & forward thinking; so far we are only able to produce Cholera & Typhoid vaccines, rest of the vaccines are imported from either Geneva (WHO) or mercy of Pharma Industry.
I must appreciate the Indus Health Network at the forefront of Covid-19 offering free screening & tests & many others NGOs as well I.e. SIUT etc
No drug policy has been formulated as yet! Pharmaceutical industry doing a flourishing business because no checks on safety, efficacy, quality control& most important research! Government should take PPMA on board to regulate Pharma industry as a priorty. Ramazan is approaching country is in danger of running out of life-saving medicines like Insulin, heart, vaccines(Rabies, Hepatitis, Tetanus, Typhoid)& other routine medicines, government must come up with the comprehensive plan to make sure the supply chain should not be cut off in these difficult times, Pakistan import all Pharmaceutical raw material from abroad (China/India/Europe). Pakistan is lucky enough to get $238m loan from the World Bank to strengthen the National Healthcare System. Pakistan is one of the only three countries in the world not been able not been able to eradicate Polio, we don’t know how long Bill Gates will continue his commitment on this! Currently, there is no health minister at the moment! Dr. Zafar Mirza is looking after the ministry as an advisor, he should act now, should have a long term future plane on research, health care delivery system at the grassroots level, currently we don’t have any National Health Emergency plan! should involve public-private partnerships as a priority. Dr. Zafar Mirza no doubt is highly qualified person for this job with ample experience working with WHO, he has been very proactive in coordinating with the provinces. It is indeed a duty of ministry of Health & Agriculture to provide ample food at all cost even in testing times of Ramazan, we don’t want any acute Food shortage (Hunger pandemic) at this point. Sadly Pakistan is unable to control the birth rate which is now 28 per 1000 people, in India & Bangladesh it is 18, proper planning & serious thought required on reproductive health. After the attack on Osama Bin Laden house in Abbottabad, many NGOs are not allowed to work in Pakistan freely, this had serious consequences in reproductive health & poverty alleviation programmers etc.
Lockdown, no social interaction, lost livelihoods & fear of COVOD-19 infection, this leads to anxiety, depression & other mental health problems.e. suicide. One thing is very clear that virus transmission, prevalence, and impact will differ from place to place due to underlying socioeconomic and demographic realities. No doubt the post-Covid-19 world will be totally different & more healthconscious, because of fear of second wave of infection in future! No vaccine against the Coronavirus as yet, earliest availability could be in September this year! Oxford University working on this, two experimental dosses given already to two volunteers, also supported by Imperial College London hopefully starts clinical trial in June.
In Pakistan the daily life & economy based on cash dealings, we all know the currency notes are also source of Coronavirus transmission, government should encourage the public/businessman to use a digital/online way of payment. State bank should encourage every CNIC holder to have a bank account/Debit card to carry on daily life much easier & safe.
- Education:All the education institutions are closed probably might open after Ramzan!, all the local & overseas exams has been postponed indefinitely!. The public sector school is not geared to work from home. As education is not a priority & government has not made any comprehensive guidelines to work from home as yet.I.e. comprehensive computer training at the primary school level, Web searching, Free internet facility. We need more skilled workers/jobs, rather MBAs, Chartered accountants, Phds etc. Government should make more emphasis on training & teaching skilled jobs at the primary school level i.e Electricians/auto-mobile/air-conditioner/Lab technician etc. The Human Resource Development should be more focus on courses/hands-on training on skilled jobs, this certainly boosts the future economy and alleviates the unemployment.
HEC regulates all the Universities in Pakistan should come up the comprehensive plane to educate students sitting at home probably till 31st May (summer vacations& lockdown)! starts conducting classes online as quickly as possible, this will only be possible if free internet access available to all those are registered. Pakistan's literacy rate is 57%(south-east Asia), SriLanka is 92.6%. Educate every child born in the country is the duty of state.
- Economic: Due to the pandemic, the businesses shattered & the economy battered. The whole world will definitely face a major economic recession, probably much worse than the 2007-09 Great Recession. Our setup is not geared towards working from home! Like the Construction industry, Small cottage industry, Agriculture, Intercity/local transport, port operation&Skilled/unskilled labor generally, etc. Price hike & availability of food & material will be the biggest impact on our economy. Tax revenue, exports & remittance from abroad will fall sharply, and more so what will happen to the debt repayment? Pakistan growth rate might reduce to -1.5% as predicted by my IMF resident representative.Certainly, Pakistan got the breathing space by IMF deferring the debt payment for one year; this will help our Govt. & politicians to plane now!! How to tackle this economic challenge! Pakistan certainly can’t afford to have long term lockdown, particularly the textile industry i.e. the Denim industry. Will the government able to control prices in Ramazan! It will not be possible to have a Sunday or Bacahat bazars because of lockdown, which are very popular among the community as a whole, government should come up with the plane to control the prices for a common man. Stop all the imports of the items which we produced in Pakistan, it is good for the economy & for the unemployment as well.
Luckily earlier we got $1.4m from the IMF to address the economic impact of Covod-19 in Pakistan.ADP agreed to provide $1.7billion by the end of this year! & sliding crude oil prices all these are good & timely oxygen for the current government in such a critical time means a lot to absorb the fiscal shocks from COVID-19 pandemic.
- Political: Not much we can say about the politics in Pakistan, because of four good reasons… Visionless leadership, Institutional corruption, Political favoritism, Ethnic & Religious intolerance. Blame games always be part of our politics, our politicians will never learn from past mistakes they rather more focused on personal gains! Our politicians should sit down together on this war-like situation & address economic/unemployment/health & education crises as first priority!! As we all know Pakistan is not Export orientated country, we don’t have attractive policies to attract foreign investment either. Till to date govt. has not convene a Parliament session, we do understand it’s a hung parliament & the PTI government is just hanging on a thin thread, currently all the govt. decisions made through Presidential Ordinance, it’s a new way of running the daily business, if carried like this carry on for long…. it might cause constitutional crises!! Like Finance Bill/passage of Budget the most important job of Parliament. The virtual parliament session seems unlikely! (Happening almost in every western world these days) because of Ramazan, certainly suits the ruling party. Persisting long economic crises does effects the ruling party, how long they can sustain the pressure! So long Army keeping an eye on every political move, not hurting them& lack of civilian supremacy…. Will be fine for future Pakistan.