Published in El Pais, 8 January 2022.
During COVID-19 the attention of the whole world was focused on the pandemic and the attempt to reduce the effects of it. Many research programs focused on this problem, as well as government programs and actions. The problem with this is that, in developing countries, many things were already wrong and with the eyes on the pandemic, other things are worsening.
1. Education. The lack of access to the internet or a good level of internet bandwith in addition to an education not adapted to the new online tools has caused education to suffer great delays. Many countries decided to close schools and universities as the only option due to the lack of strategies to provide internet to students or education to teachers so that they can continue teaching online.
The problem of lack of breakfast for many children and adolescents was accentuated by the pandemic. Furthermore, very few parents were prepared to have online education at home.
2. Primary health. Primary health is precarious in many countries and the pandemic only accentuated this aspect because it forced people to stay at home without receiving health care. Telemedicine, follow-up calls or patient care are not possible because many health centers do not have internet or telephones. Additionally, the monitoring systems in many health systems are carried out on paper, which prevents having the information at hand and in time to be able to make adequate decisions in accordance with the population’s problems.
3. Violence (gender and child). Violence in many countries is a big problem since it is cultural. In Bolivia, for example, it is the leading cause of death of male adolescents. The figures of femicide and infanticide have even risen in times of pandemic, and it has not been possible to carry out prevention campaigns or follow up on preventive complaints.
4. Freedom of the press. Many countries already had strong sanctions against allowing press freedom, and with the pandemic, the fight has stopped. The governments of many countries try to modify the news so that it appears favorable to their administration and, therefore, it is a matter of restricting as much as possible so that the population does not receive the news as it is.
5. Declining economy and corruption. The economies were already in crisis due to the drop in the prices of oil and its derivatives. The countries dependent on their raw materials and their income did not take advantage of the good times to develop industrialization or improve the infrastructure so that the business community can develop it. Now, many countries are still waiting for the price rise that may not come for a long time because the race to other types of energy is receiving a lot of attention.
6. Lack of investment security. Many governments are unable to enforce property or investments. Despite the fact that 85% or more of the national economy depends on small and medium-sized companies, many governments try to raise the conditions of their operation by discouraging their investments and making them close. This generates great labor crises that, without noticing, generate economic crises at the national level.
The pandemic continues, but it is also important to focus on working on other problems so as not to worsen the citizen’s quality of life.