The following is an article by Dunya Maumoon, the Former Foreign Minister of Maldives.
Yes, it has arrived on our shores. The storm is here in the Maldives. This was inevitable, it would reach Maldives as it has reached and is reaching every country in the world. We all hoped for a while that by some miracle it would not reach our very congested capital Male’.
The COVID-19 pandemic has infected over 2 million people in the world and killed over 136,000. Yes, it is a horrible disease, painful and long drawn. But other countries have faced this and overcome. Let us look at countries such as Taiwan, New Zealand and South Korea where the responses were outstanding. With the will of Allah almighty we can prevail! We have a good level of preparedness as per WHO and the Government of Maldives. We have very capable and well-educated doctors as well as excellent nurses. Let us listen to their advice and follow it. After all they are risking their lives and fighting the war. They are the frontline. We have to support them and give them all the tools and resources they need as far as possible. Let us do this so that we can avoid the painful scenes we have seen and continue to see on the screen in Italy, Spain the US, UK and of-course India right on our doorstep.
One thing positive our people are almost 100% literate well aware and educated. The use of technology is high in the Maldives. Yes, Male is extremely congested and lock down is hard in Male’ where many people are in cramped homes. Even more worrying are the conditions in which foreign labourers are living in. We have to make sure to protect the vulnerable and high-risk amongst us. Even one life lost is one life too many.
The experience of countries and the paths they have taken have been varied. There is so much for any Government to juggle. Whilst health the protection of lives is of utmost importance, we have to balance it with livelihoods. End of the day, in some under-developed countries people are worried, and it may well be the case that people will die from hunger and starvation. Many people are reliant on daily incomes and the poorest are suffering. Even food supply and availability are problems in many countries. Governments have a tough task in juggling the many aspects and challenges they face whilst in lock down and in the steps that are needed in coming out of lockdowns.
Let us not lose hope. Maldives is only entering into this long-drawn war and struggle. We have to arm ourselves with the best tools and information. Most invaluable of-course is the successful strategies used by countries that have successfully tackled, controlled and over come COVID-19.
Coming out of lock down maybe a distant dream. Insha Allah, we will get there soon. According to WHO a number of factors have to be in place before an exit. These include that the transmission is controlled, public health capacity is available, outbreak risk is minimized, preventive measures are minimized, importation risk is managed, communities are aware and engaged.
Finally my appeal to our leaders and all politicians is that this is NOT the time to play politics. Indeed it is the time for leadership, clear and decisive leadership. Clear communication with the public is important. Whilst we should try not to create panic, we should not hide information. Trust in Government is important and hence the Government has to make sure to continue to maintain trust without undermining this. I appeal to the opposition to support and work with the Government, the medical professionals and all our institutions. They can do this whilst holding the Government to account and for its leadership and it’s actions.
Of course it is also vital that our private sector and civil society join in the national effort. Our survival depends entirely on our ability to work together at this moment in time! May Allah keep our beautiful islands safe and give us all strength and patience. #togetherwecan