Pandemic, sanitary resources and disarmament

It is logical to be very worried nowadays for the sanitary emergency generated around us due to COVID19, but it is also important to be conscious that this pandemic has been extended at a global level. Our harmful experience makes clear that its consequences are going to be disastrous and it will be even worse for those countries without adequate public health systems. Because it is obvious that public system is the only patrimony of those people who do not have an individual assets but, let us remember once again in case anyone gets lost, they have the same dignity and rights as everyone else.

 

This global health crisis needs coordinated global responses, because to end this pandemic means to eradicate it globally, not only in our country and its immediate environment. A safe future for everyone will require the strengthening of public health systems in many countries and to achieve this goal it will be necessary the technical support and the international cooperation in all levels. That is why this crisis makes the improvement of the United Nations and its institutions as WHO more needed than ever, as well as the reform of some of them, making a more democratic participation possible for all countries in a global governance, with the Sustainable Development Goals and disarmament as priorities. It is necessary to move along quicker in shaping a truly democratic world authority which counts with all the political authority and all economic means to face the challenges (and great possibilities) of a globalized and completely interconnected world. A better future for all cannot be based on the general “free-for-all” strategy because, as this pandemic is proving, no one can solve this problem on his/her own nor can conceive the destiny in isolation from humanity.

 

Today more than ever we should reflect on the nonsense of the enormous (and growing) global military expenditure and the need to drastically reduce it in order to use those resources to improve our health, education, prevention and fight against climate change systems. To this end, we should remember the most up-to-date figures available The global health expenditure per capita was US$ 1080 in 2017, according to WHO data. The 2018 report by SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, https://www.sipri.org/) shows that in the same year the world's military spending was 230 US$ per capita. This means that each one of us is spending on weapons and army a quarter more than what is being expended on health. Without any doubt, with the diminution of the military expenditure, governments would have an immediate source of resources ready to attend citizens and repair the huge social and health consequences of this crisis and others that we may suffer in the future.

 

In particular, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017, has just denounced that spending on nuclear weapons, by countries that are suffering severely from the VCID-19 epidemic, would be sufficient to cover many of its health needs at this time (the most significant figures are available at https://www.icanw.org/healthcare_costs). At the global level, it is worth to mention that, for example, France's annual expenditure on nuclear weapons (US$ 4.45 billion) is more than double of the total annual budget of the World Health Organization (US$ 4.22 billion for the biennium 18/19). It is undoubtedly time to promote disarmament at all levels, and in particular the elimination of all types of nuclear weapons which are a threat to the survival of humanity and a continuing source of humanitarian and environmental risks.

 

The crisis we are experiencing shows us that we haven’t heed the warnings of many global health experts saying that a pandemic could happen. In the same way, the innumerable risks involved in the mere possession of nuclear weapons are being ignored by many governments, and international health organizations have denounced repeatedly that the detonation (accidental or not) of a single nuclear weapon will lead to a humanitarian crisis with global implications without possible response nowadays. It is time to redirect this irrationality making use of our common sense to be at the service of the sense of the common. We hope to be able to achieve this goal.

 

Ángel Ballesteros, Justice and Peace of Burgos

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