The call by Chris Whitty, the UK’s chief medical officer, to learn lessons from the past (Report, March 24) must transcend the confines of the pandemic response if we are to “build back better”.
As we emerge from the shadow of Covid-19, governments around the world face an unprecedented triple threat of global recession, a degrading environment and enduring and widening inequality.
Politicians and policymakers have a choice to make. They can continue with the decades-old orthodoxies that dominate social, political and economic policy, even though these have contributed to growing division and inequality between and within communities. They can tinker at the edges with superficial patchwork reform, hoping that this time it will work despite again failing to engage with the communities whose prosperity and welfare it seeks to improve. Or they can take inspiration from radical thinkers such as Seebohm Rowntree, William Beveridge and Beatrice Webb, whose work influenced policymaking and prosperity in the wake of the last global catastrophe of this magnitude.
If we are to avert the massive impact on long-term health that Whitty warns of, we need a strategy for prosperity that is based on the lived experiences of the 21st century, rather than socio-economic theory from the early 20th.
Professor Dame Henrietta L Moore
Founder and Director
Institute for Global Prosperity
London W1, UK