By Ramu Damodaram
UNITED NATIONS, Jul 10 2020 (IPS)
Among the many compelling points made by Dr. Anthony Fauci in our “Rethinking Health” webinar this week was the absolute essentiality of global collaboration and transparency to contain the pandemic with which we are faced.
It’s an imperative between, but beyond, States and governments, which Secretary-General Guterres has affirmed, most recently when he spoke of how we must reimagine the way nations cooperate in a “networked multilateralism” where the United Nations works with others more closely and effectively.
The primary logic of the Academic Impact has been precisely the networks of scholarship and research that can underpin the achievements and the promises of multilateralism.
But when we determined that logic, many of us saw it as inherent to a gradual accommodative process, not one compelled by the urgencies the past few months have laid bare.
What we can be proud of is the scale of adaptation, innovation and reasoned experiment that our network displayed in addressing the many dimensions of our global crisis.
Let’s look at a few instances.
New Giza University (Egypt), whose Dr Lamiaa Mohsen we were privileged to welcome for our webinar, sent medical convoys to nearby communities, and sanitized houses with specialized equipment.
Students at Ahfad University for Women (Sudan) produced hand sanitizers after scientifically testing different combinations and formulas and then distributed them through local NGOs.
The University of Pretoria (South Africa) assessed nutritional needs of students from disadvantaged groups while offering support to policymakers on children’s nutrition and the pandemic’s impact on food security.
Across the Indian Ocean, Kristu Jayanti College (India) undertook a community social survey to assess the impact of the pandemic on disadvantaged communities to chart out a multidimensional strategy to address and improve their situation.
Western Sydney University (Australia) implemented a program of transitioning medical students into the hospital system as Assistants in Medicine, to meet the requirements of individual health services during the pandemic.
And at De Monftort University (United Kingdom) nursing graduates were fast-tracked to join the National Health Service to provide vital support during the pandemic. On related track, Rey Juan Carlos University (Spain) launched an initiative to offer virtual health support via videoconferencing or calling tools, for professionals and users working in nursing homes, to provide assistance on health issues, including those on COVID-19.
If these initiatives took advantage of the skills and readiness of students in the medical field, two other institutions co-opted those in engineering departments to bring their own expertise to bear.
Andrés Bello Catholic University (Venezuela) launched a project to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) for health professionals in three local public hospitals, with a 3D printer handled by Engineering students.
And the Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences (Pakistan), through a research team of the Control Automation & Robotics Lab at the Faculty of Information and Technology, has developed a low-cost ventilator product called BUITEMS Vent-1 for treatment of COVID-19 patients.
Related is the venture by Lehigh University (United States) where a research team has produced a device to ensure, through the use of UV-C light, the sterilization and reuse of N95 masks when new ones are unavailable.
These are only some of the examples of which we hear every day, each of which attests to the logic of our mission. Many years ago, a distinguished physician spoke of two things—-science and opinion; “the former begets knowledge, the latter ignorance.”
Today we are proud of our members who, in reinforcing the former over the latter each day, give life not only to that aphorism of Hippocrates 2400 years ago, but to children, women and men today.
*This article originally appeared in the UN Academic Impact Weekly Newsletter
Ramu Damodaran is Chief, United Nations Academic Impact*