Lest we Forget?

On April 23rd David Littleproud, Minister for Agriculture, called on G20 Nations to end wet wildlife markets citing the risk to human health and agricultural markets. It has taken a pandemic to bring our attention to the fact that our world is powerfully interconnected and that a pangolin removed from it’s native habitat is not irrelevant to a New York stockbroker.

It forces us to face the profound inequality in our world that means that people who are rich enough to sequester themselves in their homes are dying at a significantly lower rate than those who cannot afford to stop work. This is the work of cleaners, taxi drivers, service providers and others who are brought into direct contact with others who may carry the virus. An article in The Guardian on April 25th reported that in the first weeks of the pandemic in St Louise, Missouri, only black people died and by late April 64% of all cases were African American who constitute 45% of the population. This group have a much higher prevalence of the health conditions that increase the risk of death, are less likely to be able to work from home, are more likely to have to travel on public transport and are less able to stockpile food.

As we look back on ANZAC Day we are reminded not to forget. Once the worst of the pandemic crisis passes it is important that we address the powerful lesson that has been handed to us. We live in one world where actions in one place can profoundly affect everyone and that when these things happen those who suffer most are already profoundly disadvantaged.