NZ world leader in covid management says Swiss economist

Photo: Fusion Medical Animation/Unsplash

New Zealand is one of the world leaders in successfully managing the Covid-19 pandemic.

Swiss economist Ajit Bhalla says New Zealand and China are the only two countries in the world to have been most successful in controlling Covid.

“Other countries have generally failed. But New Zealand and China have done consistently well,” Dr Bhalla told Number 8 Network’s Annette Taylor.

Dr Bhalla now lives in Geneva, Switzerland, and has held positions with Oxford, Manchester, Cambridge and Yale Universities, and the United Nations.

But he has a Gordonton connection – he met and became friends with Pare Hopa in 1963, when she was studying for her PhD at Oxford University – the first Maori woman to gain this degree. At the time he was a research officer at the Institute of Economic& Statistics, Oxford University, and the two were next door neighbours at Queen Elizabeth House.


Pare Hopa
Pare and Ajit Bhalla at a Thai restaurant in Auckland, 2006

He contacted N8N recently to reconnect with Pare and talked a little about his recent work, studying the secret of Asia’s success in managing the pandemic and mentioned how well New Zealand had fared.

His research, published online by Routledge UK, is co-authored by Jing Fang, Chongqing University, China.

He says Jacinda Ardern showed remarkable qualities of decisive, collaborative and consensual leadership, combined with quick action, empathy and respect for scientists and experts.

“I think she is one of the best leaders – humane, and clear-headed. I was not all that surprised about New Zealand’s success because Ardern took the early decision to close the borders, when others dithered.”

He sees the three key actors in the current fight against the Coronavirus pandemic are leaders (political, scientific, industry, academic), agents (public health departments, educational and scientific institutions…) and followers (citizens, public, local community.)

All three need to be in sync to attain success, but the condition is fulfilled in only a very few countries, mostly in Asia.

“Many political leaders were in denial about the pandemic and failed to provide any incentives to agents and followers to comply with the public health rules and guidelines,” the paper said.
Yet NZ and Asia were successful in managing the pandemic, while the rest largely was not.

People and community driven strategies are more suitable to control a pandemic.

Global action is the only way forward to control the global pandemic, which does not recognize any geographical or political boundaries.”

The main findings of the paper will be included in his book: Coronavirus Pandemic and Leadership Challenges, which he has been working on for two years now.

To read the original paper online, click here.

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Number 8 Network - a community website for the rural areas northeast of Hamilton, NZ, is run by Gordonton journalist/editor Annette Taylor.

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