Dr Sue Wareham, Healthcare not warfare, Pearls and Irritations, 6 April 2020

SUE WAREHAM. Healthcare Not Warfare

Australia should support the UN Secretary General’s call for a global ceasefire. There are steps that our nation could take in the very short term and beyond to prioritise healthcare over warfare. We are spending vast sums on equipping ourselves for the next war while our frontline health workers struggle to find enough face masks to protect themselves and others. As even greater health threats loom, this is unsustainable.

The recent appeal for a global ceasefire amid the COVID-19 pandemic, by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, should be strongly supported. Guterres stated, “Our world faces a common enemy: COVID-19. The virus does not care about nationality or ethnicity, faction or faith…The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war.”

Wars not only destroy health directly, but they also destroy healthcare systems, facilities and health workers. War-ravaged communities are ill-placed to manage public health crises.

Healthcare not warfare must be our goal, now and in the post-COVID world. This pandemic has shown that cooperation rather than confrontation to address our common threats is possible.

Below are 6 steps that Australia could readily take to help achieve health for all.