Open Letter to Political Party Leaders – Please Include the Pandemic and Pandemic Preparedness in Your Manifestos

Dear Political Party Leaders,

I write to you today with a sense of urgency and a heartfelt plea on behalf of countless individuals affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. My name is Sally Callow, I am a social entrepreneur with Stripy Lightbulb CIC and ME Foggy Dog, and I have spent a lot of time over the past four years engaging with politicians and highlighting the chronic illness consequences of COVID-19 and the critical need for effective public communication. Despite these efforts, it has been concerning to witness a narrative that increasingly speaks of COVID-19 in the past tense. I have yet to see any political party acknowledge the ongoing difficulties presented by COVID19 within their election output. This misrepresentation is not only premature but also dangerous, given the current reality and the ongoing challenges we face such as school absence, teachers leaving the profession due to ill health, growing numbers of people leaving employment due to ill health, hospitals cancelling appointments due to COVID19 being present in wards or clinics, and hospitality struggling due to people avoiding crowded, poorly ventilated, indoor spaces.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact lives worldwide, with many still grappling with the virus’s immediate and long-term health effects. Long COVID, a condition where symptoms persist long after the initial infection, has emerged as a significant public health issue. It is known that around 50% of Long COVID cases meet the diagnostic criteria for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (M.E./C.F.S.), one year after acute infection. For most (80%+), this will be a rest of life illness without recovery. It is imperative that we do not dismiss these ongoing struggles or continue to give the impression that the pandemic is behind us.

As you prepare your manifestos and policies for the upcoming elections, I urge you to include comprehensive strategies for managing the current state of the pandemic. Here are several key points I implore you to consider:

  1. Continued Vigilance and Support for COVID-19 Measures:
    • Maintain and improve testing, contact tracing, and vaccination efforts.
    • Provide clear and consistent public health messaging that reflects the ongoing risk and necessary precautions.
  2. Addressing Long COVID:
    • Invest in research to better understand and treat M.E and Long COVID
    • Create and ensure adequate support and resources for individuals suffering from these conditions, including medical care, mental health support, and social services.
  3. Strengthening Healthcare Systems:
    • Enhance the capacity and resilience of healthcare systems to handle ongoing COVID-19 cases and potential future surges.
    • Support healthcare workers who have been on the front lines, ensuring they have the resources and support they need.
  4. Preparing for Future Pandemics:
    • Develop and implement robust preparedness plans for future pandemics, including emerging potential threats such as Avian Flu.
    • Foster international cooperation and data sharing to quickly identify and respond to emerging infectious diseases.
  5. Transparent and Inclusive Communication:
    • Engage with communities transparently, addressing concerns and misinformation.
    • Include diverse voices in the decision-making process, especially those from vulnerable and marginalised groups.

The reality of COVID-19 is that it is an ongoing crisis that requires sustained and adaptive strategies. Pretending that it is a thing of the past only undermines our collective efforts and endangers public health.

Have you been listening to the concerns I’ve raised over the past 4 years? How are you preparing for the potential threat of Avian Flu and other future pandemics? These are critical questions that demand clear answers and decisive actions.

I call on all political parties to demonstrate leadership and responsibility by addressing these issues head-on in your manifestos. The health and well-being of our communities depend on it.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I look forward to seeing your commitments to these crucial issues reflected in your policies and actions.


Sally Callow

Managing Director and Founder
Stripy Lightbulb CIC and ME Foggy Dog

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