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Life responsibility

“It’s my life” sung by Jon Bon Jovi was a Chart buster song in 2000. Everybody loved the theme. It started the millennial era. The 21st generation rebels just adored the concept of claiming that ‘it is my life and let me do what I want.’ It also resonated with the older crowds who for long had lived inbox lives. This super hit after two decades remains as popular as ever. The whole theme of ownership of one’s life has an everlasting message. Thus it is very difficult to understand that all those who chanted and shouted for leading their own lives are many times holding everybody else responsible for their lives but themselves. What could be a bigger example than the times of coronavirus? These times have ripped the mask off a lot of people, a lot of companies and a lot of countries. The very fact that most people in the world have refused to take responsibility of their lives in this virus is a fact that has endangered the security of many in this world.

From lockdowns to vaccination there is a sad rat race of breaking the law and jumping the queue. While Corona is in the midst of a third most infectious wave, people are not ready to take precautions. Weddings galore took place in March. Utter disregard of social distancing, guest limiting and masks was seen repeatedly. After the virus hit thousands of people in a day there was a hue and cry of “where are the vaccines?”. The media, the public and everybody is now going hoarse claiming that Pakistan does not have vaccines and is not administering them quick enough. The private companies are being bombarded by the rich and those who can afford to give them all the stock or get them vaccinated instantly. The federal and provincial governments have become more stringent in their lockdowns but are finding it very tough to make people realize that without their cooperation the virus will always come back with a vengeance. In this tussle and chaos some out of the box thinking and actions are required:

1. Change the Priority list – Vaccine SOPs as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) are being followed world over. The most vulnerable groups – the senior citizens and frontline workers – are being vaccinated first free of cost by the government. However, in a poor country where resources are a major constraint, why subsidise the rich? What the government can do is to provide free vaccine to the socioeconomic class C, D, E free according to age priority and let the rich buy it off private importers. That will also require facilitating the import of vaccines in Pakistan but as it has already started and people are willing to pay for it, the government needs to encourage it to have wider, quicker and less costly way of vaccinating the total population of Pakistan.

2. Attract local assembly – The only way scale and pace of vaccine administration can be sped up is by having some local facility available. Cansino Bio vaccines of China that carried out trials in Pakistan is one such arrangement that can be expedited. In return for their trials they had agreed to do assembly production in Pakistan. They will carry out filling and packing process in Pakistan and then distribute it within Pakistan and other countries. This is an opportunity that should be looked into with other producers as well. With India’s Serum Institute having local production constraints the world is looking for alternative locations to speed up the vaccine development process. Time for Pakistan to start talking to China, Russia and other vaccine producers who already produce pharmaceuticals under licence in Pakistan to offer itself as a viable alternative.

3. Pursue joint production – Pakistan should also be building up its capacity for joint production in the future. As the Cansino Bio assembly project rolls out talks should be initiated for training and quality control measures for Pakistani counterparts with the aim of partial production possibility in Pakistan. As the world realizes that the only way to save itself is by spreading and sharing vaccine production quickly it will be looking for localization potential. That is the readiness that our pharma industry needs to develop and our government needs to incentivize.

4. Collaborate with Corporates – The government needs to widely engage with industry association and corporate sector. Associations such All Pakistan Textile Mills’ Association (APTMA) need to be given the task of creating self sufficiency of vaccine administration for their workers. In most companies there exists Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) budgets. Companies need to dedicate them in buying vaccines for their employees. For this purpose the government can start a “We care” drive and put the names of all corporates who take responsibility of their employee vaccine on that website with a social media drive to appreciate and acknowledge them. This will have a snowball effect on companies to join the hall of recognition.

5. Ramazan’s spirit of giving – As the month of Ramazan is around the corner, an appeal should be made to people that in their spirit of giving get your household servants vaccinated by buying privately for them. Cost of two persons’ vaccination is Rs 25,000 and that can be the amount that many households have reserved for giving to deserving people.

6. Engage religious leaders – The biggest problem of mass vaccination is going to be the rural areas where people are largely resistant and indifferent to vaccines. That is where the clerics needs to be engaged.

7. Mask shaming drive – For the general public mask wearing should be made a social responsibility. The recent video going viral where some well-known TV actress was shown getting vaccinated out of turn is a case in point. She was trolled so much on social media that she had to apologize. A similar movement should be made on mask shaming. People should be asked to capture photographs of unmasked people and put them on social media to make people feel ashamed and uncomfortable. Mere fines will not deter the better off people, mask shaming will.

The third wave of Covid-19 is vicious and unwavering. This is a public health calamity and will only be controlled by every segment of society taking the responsibility of their health and life. Social distancing and lockdowns are not going to be sustainable. Fighting the virus is the joint responsibility of everybody. When you say “it’s my life” then everybody needs to take responsibility for living and protecting it.

Andleeb Abbas, "Life responsibility," Business Recorder. 2021-04-12.
Keywords: Social sciences , Textile mills , Health calamity , Ramazan , Pakistan , China , Russia , CSR

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