Setting of standards is crucial in the face of pandemic

Tuesday, February 9th, 2021 00:00 |

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Eddy Njoroge

Former US President John F. Kennedy once said: “The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word crisis.

One brush stroke stands for danger and the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger – but recognise the opportunity.” 

Great learning points can be derived from the current pandemic. Firstly, industries that harness the capabilities of standards have an optimistic outlook. 

It is important to integrate and develop business and systems with standards, which will drive innovation and evolution of how we do things. As long as coronavirus pandemic lasts, the world will need to remain innovative.

The pandemic reminds us the importance of medical standards which should be a topmost priority for all countries.

Globally, hospitals face shortages of medical equipment and supplies when there is an urgent need to consistently deliver the best healthcare to citizens. 

Facilities such as medical laboratories for testing the coronavirus samples and calibration of refrigerators for storing vaccines and samples have become essential.

Standards of all levels of healthcare facilities - Level One to Level Five - are paramount to win the war against the pandemic.

Another eye-opening lesson has been the fact that all physical activities and events now need to be conducted virtually.

Organisations have allowed their staff to work remotely, signaling a shift towards less physical and more digital interactions.

Video standards will need to evolve to support technological progress in this area, to support coordination of information between various users.

Global and local players in e-commerce such as Amazon, Alibaba, Jumia and Kilimall are currently applying unique solutions; leveraging the power of technology to sustain operations through use of online platforms, to consistently deliver excellent customer focused service.

Shared standards across regions could enhance efficiency in trade of products online, improve productivity of industry players and smoothen the flow of goods between countries, even as the pandemic tests the resilience of global value chains.

Some of the most affected are tourism and hospitality. However, with eased restrictions in some countries, business is slowly picking up.

To kickstart the tourism industry, players and committees can make use of revamped tourism standards to make informed decisions on renewed Covid-19 protocols and necessities affecting different stakeholders such as customers, regulators, employees and service intermediaries.

In the long term, standards can boost their competitiveness and customer services.  

The pandemic has certainly tested the abilities of countries around the world in their efforts to contain the spread of the virus.

Some measures implemented so far are full or partial lockdowns to restrict movement.

Contact tracing and development of vaccines are the subjects of discussion across governments, as they assess their infrastructural capabilities to incapacitate Covid-19. 

Through application of metrology, scientists are making use of the best way to gauge temperature control for proper storage and viability of vaccines.

Metrology is also supporting the study gene and cell therapies which is critical in the development of effective vaccines.

There is a famous saying at the International Standards Organization that goes: “When things don’t work, it often means that standards are absent.” Standards are incredible assets that are used to solve problems resulting from crises.

Standards are crucial on all areas including manufacturing, technology, agriculture, tourism, corporate entities, governance and environmental conservation.

Locally, the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) through the National Standards Council, brings together representatives from diverse industries as well as experts, as partners in the development of standards.

 Recent examples of Kebs intervention include ensuring high quality of Personal Protective Equipment, testing and certification innovations such as ventilators, nebulisers and spray booths.  —The writer is the President of the International Standards Organisation.

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