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The Caribbean Post-Covid-19 by Kari Grenade, PhD T he Covid-19 pandemic is a global health crisis of enormous proportions. Since the outbreak started in December 2019, there have been over 80,000 deaths worldwide (as at 9 April 2020), of which a total of 38 have been spread across 10 Caricom countries. Not only is Covid-19 a global health crisis, but it has upended social norms, caused acute psychological pain and delivered a decisive and pronounced shock to global economic and financial systems. Governments worldwide have rightly focused on containing the spread of the virus, with the ultimate objective of saving lives, with a proximate objective of protecting livelihoods as much as practical and feasible. Indeed, governments’ actions must continue, and in some cases, intensify to stop the virus. While current efforts are rightly focused on containment, it is not too early for us in the Caribbean to start thinking about the new normal post-Covid-19, in fact, the “next new normal” because we have been in a new normal post the global financial crisis of 2008. For sure, the choice that we will face when we get past Covid-19 is how do we deal once and for all with the myriad of issues that are required to address our vulnerabilities and build our resilience to health and other crises in the future. Make no mistake, everything we do will, and must change post-Covid-19. This article offers the following thoughts on how the Caribbean can begin to navigate towards the “next new normal.” I will elaborate on these ideas in a subsequent publication. Fundamental Improvements in Pandemic Preparedness and Health Systems The health crisis has exposed the Caribbean’s (and the world’s by and large) ill-preparedness to deal with pandemics. Of necessity therefore, the region needs a quantum shift in its approach to pandemic preparedness as well as substantial improvements in public health and enhancements in primary healthcare systems with attendant capacity building and institutional strengthening. Renewed Focus on Building Resilience Deforestation, pollution and other forms of environmental degradation exacerbate human health challenges and in turn, intensify the impacts of pandemics such as Covid-19. Indeed, the Covid-19 crisis has reinforced the imperative of building resilience in all of its forms, and resilience to pandemics must be given more prominence in the resilience-building architecture of the Caribbean. Even so, the Caribbean can ill-afford to lose focus on building resilience to climate change and must continue to invest in climate adaptation and mitigation measures and climate-resilient infrastructure. To be sure, the climate crisis remains the greatest existential threat to our humanity. Overhaul of the Economic System and Approach to Policy Formulation Coming out of this crisis, the region must jettison the extant economic model that isn’t rooted in moral values, which prioritizes profits over people, perpetuates income inequality, retards poverty reduction, undermines environmental sustainability and treats the deficient GDP per capita numeric as the sacrosanct measure of wellbeing and development. Of necessity, a new development paradigm is required; one that is based on a “systems-thinking and multi-sectoral” approach (rather than an incoherent, piecemeal and siloed approach) to public policy formulation.  Continues on next page 14

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