There is no current news headlines and issues as world-shaking as COVID-19. Covering in all types of media around the globe, the outbreak of this new virus, trembles the world with its faculty of easy and rapid contagion. This novel coronavirus neither puts a disadvantage to one race nor gives favor to another. It travels across the world without boundary_ reaching all nations and ambiences with no particular consideration based on the skin, gender, age and financial status.
Scientists, doctors, experts, researchers, laboratory technicians and health workers from every corner of the world have been constantly working on antiviral drug since the past five months. An update on vaccines against COVID-19 shows more than one hundred vaccines are in preclinical development and some already proceeded through later-stage trials. Hopefully, applicable vaccine is ready shortly before this deadly, highly infectious disease ravage humanity.
In fact, the outbreak of COVID-19 causes a series of misery and loss until today, affecting big companies to manual workers. Everyone suffers more or less, to some degree. Looking ahead the future when the vaccine is ready for mass vaccination and everything goes back to normality, the first thing every single government has to address is on the catastrophes occurred during the pandemic such as financial loss, livelihoods, politics trends and policy priorities. Simultaneously, Myanmar government in its best capacity, would be occupied in effectively dealing its domestic cases and priority sectors and independently tackle through its best strategy. The question here is, what the government needs to put as its priority after COVID-19 pandemic end?
Contemplating the history of Myanmar until the Independence in 1948, it was not deadly virus like COVID-19 that virtually destroyed the country’s economy, the healthcare systems, transportation and electricity infrastructures, educational institutes and the civilians’ mental health. It was neither the natural disaster nor terrorism which left the population under immense poverty. The pandemic and natural disasters occur only sometimes. The long-lasting internal conflict and civil war remains the driving force and the core source behind the loss of many lives. The country’s infrastructure development including public services halts for more than 70 years as a result of civil war.
The government of the Union of Myanmar places top priority in emergency upgrades in many health centers by supplying medical procurement. The President Office consistently produces statements on social protections safety and health topics regarding COVID-19. Moreover, various different types of coping mechanisms are initiated by the governmental bodies, scholars, business owners, civil society organizations and other community-based organizations, alongside healthcare professionals and health workers. Some practical measures include raising awareness, distribution of hand sanitizers and masks, donating personal protective equipment (PPE) forms and other material requirements for hospitals. The roles of artists and other social influencers could not be simply ignored as well. The Union government keeps updated on the status of the deceased and recovery rates, including other preventive procedures using the channel of the Ministry of Health and Sport (MOHS) Facebook page.
However, the government is negligent on the issue of incessant internal ethnic conflict inside the country. The fight between Myanmar Tatmataw and ethnic armed groups are currently going on in Rakhine state, Chin state, Kachin state, northern Shan state and other territories. Over 70 years of civil war results in many citizens losing tracks and are left with blurred futures, others suffering from physical pains and mental health problems. Besides, famines at internal displacement or refugee camps take thousands of lives. This ongoing conflict further leads the country into the pit of poverty and sufferings while claiming thousands of civilians’ casualties. Therefore, for the case of Myanmar, civil war remains more lethal than this deadly and highly infectious coronavirus.
Consequently, it is the government’s obligation to take active measures in halting the endless civil war occurred until today. Prioritizing “Peace” within its country, the government should take more actions by leading negotiations among the ethnic armed organizations and the Tatmadaw and producing statement on cessation of civil war, in the very least. The government as being the only elected stakeholder and is given power by the people, it is fully accountable in building peace inside the country. In fact, the long-lasting peace will be enjoyed if taken active leads by the government as it did in tackling COVID-19 and the populations unitedly participate and involve together with the government.